In this sermon, Pastor Babij explains from 1 Peter that life’s trials are designed by God, not as temptations to make believers stumble, but as means of purifying and refining His people’s faith. Pastor Babij also discusses problems that challenge the Christian’s hope of salvation. Pastor Babij concludes by exhorting believers to meditate on God’s gracious works, praise God in genuine corporate worship, and remain confident in the sure success of God’s refining trials.
As I have been saying about 1 Peter, the Apostle is describing to his readers what it is like being a Christian. In a world that is hostile, he lets them know about their actual, literal, and spiritual status in life. He wants them, which also includes us, to see how God sees His children. As I have mentioned, he calls them foreigners and aliens in this world. If you haven’t felt like that for some time, you will soon since that is all part of being a Christian. So, we have an odd audience of Jews and gentiles, who are scattered mostly in gentile areas, living in a hostile society with no permanent residence. Of course, they’re chosen, so those are the people that are being written to in the epistle of Peter.
Today, this book is still applicable since it’s talking about what we go through as a believer in this world. As we walk through this world, we ought to get into our mind that this is what we’re in for as believers. If we don’t, then we have a misunderstanding of how we’re to respond to our society, who we are to submit to, and get confused about suffering. Therefore, Peter is writing so that we don’t get confused about those things. 1 Peter 1:6-12:
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7so 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; 8and 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, 9obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 10As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.
Lord, as we look at this passage of Scripture, I pray, Lord, that we would get the sense of thinking about and preparing our minds for action about what You are doing in our life as a believer. I pray, as we understand these things, we will not be surprise when things happen that possibly we did not expect. I pray, Lord, that we realize that is exactly what is supposed to happen, and that is what we are going to go through. So, I pray, You would enable us to have a correct understanding of the Christian life, so that we are not confused by wrong understanding or duped by someone else or Satan. So, help us to see that today, in Christ’s name, Amen.
There are three parts to this great doxology that has been going on up to 1 Peter 1:12. We have come to the second and third parts of this doxology. A doxology is a hymn of praise to God like the hymn, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” or like when we sing during the Christmas holidays, “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” which means glory to God in the highest. Really, it is the human being, created in the image of God, verbally acknowledging God’s rightful place and sovereignty in their life. In a very real way, Peter wants our real life to be a doxology, where we are verbally acknowledging God’s rightful place and sovereignty in our life. Then, honoring Him in that position.
Looking at 1 Peter 1:6, in what do we greatly rejoice? Well, in what has gone before in our text, which is 1 Peter 1:1-5. We were reminded that our salvation was planned long ages ago by our Triune God. Also, while we serve the Lord here on earth, as aliens and strangers, we are to think about our great God and the awesome things He has accomplished for us. As I have mentioned, our thinking must start with God. However, our growing knowledge and meditation of God must lead to a deeper worship and love for the Lord from our heart, “Our minds must dwell upon God, so that we think correctly of God and speak well of God.”
Also, we are to contemplate the new birth He has given us. For the first time, we are alive now to serve God. We are His children born now into His family. Truly, God is our heavenly Father, and we have a spirit indwelling us, which we must ponder on along with the living hope He has given us. Remember, He has given us hope, and hope means something to look forward to that is quite grand. When our hope is fixed on the right things, we can endure anything that may come upon us as believers. Jesus’ resurrection guarantees our resurrection.
Then, we are to consider the promise of our inheritance, which is safely kept for us in heaven, and we are safely kept for our inheritance. Both things are happening, by God, 1 Peter 1:4-5:
to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In other words, our great God of mercy ensures His children of the eternal validity of our inheritance. It will never be polluted, never subject to decay, and it will never be destroyed. Today, we will examine the experience, the problems, and prophetic angelic inquires related to our hope of salvation. All these things are important to know before our minds can be fixed completely on the present and future grace brought to us, which will prepare us as aliens and strangers on the earth. 1 Peter 1:13-16:
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
However, to be holy, we must know some things. In preparing our minds to be ready to be holy, the first thing we should examine is the Christian experience relating to the hope of our salvation, especially since our Christian life is an experience. After we have trusted Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have stepped into a new life, a living hope and a relationship with God we never had before, so that experience is going to bear certain fruit in our life.
The first fruit being the experience of exaltation, so a Christian begins to exalt God. In addition, our minds are being conditioned and transformed by God to understand what God did for us. As a response, we are to greatly rejoice, not by offering trivial rejoicing, but great rejoicing. Personally, when I see someone greatly rejoicing, I must take notice of them.
Brethren, if we have been thinking about these great things God has done and promised, it is our job to match that, not with a ho-hum, woe is me response, but with great rejoicing. If we have been thinking about things regularly during the week, then on the Lord’s day, we should blow this roof off with rejoicing. The Word calls us to continually and voluntarily exalt, celebrate, and have the spirit of jubilate, which means to shout for joy! It is our affirmative response to the self-revelation of the Triune God, which is what we call worship. To worship is to think about God and converse with Him.
On Sunday morning, we meet to give a couple of hours to God as a token of all of life being His, and to give back to Him. A worship service is a microcosm of all the history of salvation, of centuries of God’s self-revealing, and His invitation of people to come to Him. Then, our invitation of an affirmative response, which is to be saved to worship God. Before you came to Christ, you did not worship God. Of a genuine believer, the basic characteristic is worshipping God.
However, the huge paradox of the Christian experience is to rejoice despite trials. We are to learn to rejoice when life is hard, and faith is difficult. In various trials, the Christian seems to be very strange. When they are going through a hard time, they respond differently than other people, or at least they should, and this is where Christians shine the most. This rejoicing is not just reserved for some future time. It happens now in the present, and it should happen despite trials.
So, the first part of a Christian experience is that we learn to exalt God and to give Him the rightful place. We are learning, we are becoming different in our thinking, and our whole view is being transformed and changed because we are believers. While understanding what God has done, what we are to be as believers, and how we are to live in this world, there is another experience, which is distress.
Looking back at verse six, trials are not temptation, so if the word temptation is there, it doesn’t mean to be tempted with something. All Christians will experience trials of one kind or another. In fact, verse six uses the word “various,” which could be understood as being multicolored trials like a prism with thousands of colors. Well, there’s thousands of ways Christians can go through trials during this course on earth as they are heading for home.
Now, the nature of these trials is distress. We should not find this strange since our trials are designed and ordained by a good God. Trials are an occasion for joy, yet, at the same time, produce grief, which is an oxymoron. However, that is exactly what the Christian life is, and, thank the Lord, we don’t constantly go through trials. As mentioned in verse six, trials are for a while, so they are short-lived with a beginning and end.
God deems in your life that it is necessary for you to go through a trial. While you are going through that trial, no one can pray you out of it, but you can get people to pray for you while you go through that trial. However, while you go through it, and God wants you in it, you will not get out of it until God is finished with you. Don’t forget, this is a good God doing this, a God who loves you, who sent His son to die in your place and offer you full forgiveness of sins, and who took your wrath for you. This is who God is, and he is bringing and allowing you to go through trials, especially since they are necessary for you. Therefore, we are put to grief for a great purpose.
Once we comprehend the why, or God’s purpose, the oxymoron becomes much clearer. In going through trails, something we don’t know is the “why”, but we do know the reasoned outcome, which is the testing out of our faith. Don’t you want to know that your faith, in Christ and in your salvation, is genuine? How do you know in your mind that you are a genuine, blood-bought Christian?
To test its purity and genuineness, gold is tested by fire to prove that it is indeed gold. One day, I remember walking through a parking lot, and someone came up to me with a box. They opened it up and there were beautiful, shiny rings in there. At the time, I was only seventeen years old and a bit gullible. I saw one ring where it was silver with sapphire stones, and the gentlemen said, “this is genuine stuff,” and I replied, “how much is it?” He gave me a price, talked me into getting it, and I bought the ring. Not too long after that, the silver started tarnishing, and the big sapphire stone fell off. However, I kept that thing because I got duped. The reason being, the stone was not genuine, and you get very angry when you find out that somebody told you something is genuine, but to find out it is not genuine.
So, gold was placed in a crucible and brought to a boiling point. Since gold was the heaviest of metals, all the impure elements mixed in the ore were brought to the surface of the boiling metals, and it could be skimmed off by the goldsmith. This purifying process is a picture of what the Christian goes through while moving through life. The manifold trials are like the crucible. As the heat is turned up, it forces all the impurities to rise to the surface so that God can skim them off. As a result, we become purer, or holy, as a believer, and now, we see ourselves as genuine, pure gold. The process of trials proves that we are genuine Christians, which is the result.
One commentary said it like this, “in the process of making us holy, we should become 24-karat Christians.” So, gold is a very important metal in the world. This purifying process also makes the gold more bright and shiny. Therefore, purifying gold is to make sure that it is gold. Purifying faith is when trials come to purify us, to make sure that our faith is genuine, leading to a life of growing purity, or holiness. God finds the testing out of our faith more precious and valuable than the testing of the genuineness of gold.
If a precious metal, a perishing metal like gold, needs to be tested as to its genuineness, then how much more should your faith, which has eternal value, be tested and proved genuine? Not only to you, but to everyone else, especially to God. When things are going well in your life, you don’t grow very much, but when you go through a trial, which is ordered by God, what do you think the result, designed by God, will be for you? The answer being, to come out of the end more holy and genuine than you ever were, and proved to be a Christian.
Of course, we will go through several trials in our life. For the Christian, every trial is a test. Trials are meant to put more spiritual strength into us, not to take it out of us. The basic weight lifters mantra is, “no pain, no gain!” Well, if you don’t press past your limit, there could be no increased strength. Even though we will go through multifaceted trails, there is enough of God’s grace to meet every single trial, and be sure, God doesn’t waste anything. James 1:2:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.
Isn’t that odd? When I get into a trial in my life, the first thing I don’t do is rejoice and mark on my calendar that it’s the best day of my life. However, we ought to rejoice since we have something in our heart and mind from the Word of God. God ordered the trail for you at this time, so count it joy. James 1:3-4:
knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Trials will produce this in our life. Now, if I went around this room, asked you about the trials God has brought you through, where you learned something from it and became a stronger, more committed Christian after that trial, you would probably have a story or two. I remember walking on the beaches of Florida, only a Christian for two years, a teammate of mine was killed, and I asked myself why. At two o’clock in the morning, I was asking the Lord why this happened. Spiritually, it brought me through such a deep time in my life. Once I was done with it, and after that happened, I became more committed as a believer than ever before in my life. As a twenty-one-year-old, I realized how life is short and serious. Also, I realized you have one chance to live, but you also have one chance to die. I want to live well and die well, which is what we ought to think.
Therefore, trials bring us to the place that will make us people we could never be if it wasn’t for the trials. Romans 8:28:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
He will use trials to do that, so I hope, after this reading, you rejoice for all future trails. Now, you realize how God uses it to make you what you ought to be, and how you could never be what you are without the trials. At the end, you come out stronger than ever. However, there are other problems that happen while we’re going through trials.
First, God’s future commendation is veiled. Aren’t we desiring to hear the voice of God say, “Come, thou good and faithful servant”? We are desiring to hear that, but the problem is, we must wait. Our faith has been growing stronger since we became a believer. Faith must hold onto something that is already ours, but faith means we have an experience to come, like the kingdom of God. Some things are veiled at a future time.
In our Christian experience, we will encounter problems that will challenge our faith, but we must wait for God on that problem. Waiting is another thing that is hard during a trial, and we must wait for God’s verbal commendation to His saints, in which He finds a genuine proven character. Then, God the Father will, at the end, give our proven character the honor it deserves. Your faith, tested in trials, will have a result to your credit. As said in verse seven, this is praise, commendation by God, the reflected glory of Christ, which the Christian has been conformed to, and honor, a high distinction as a royal child of the King of kings. However, we must wait for this, which is the apocalypse. Though, some search for God’s verbal voice now, but it will not come since He speaks through the Word of God.
When you’re in the military, you would hear the term, “Hurry up and wait,” which I despised since waiting didn’t mean ten minutes or a half hour, but it meant two days. However, waiting is another thing that strengthens us, Isiah 40:31:
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Waiting for God to do His next thing, in His program, so that the teaching of lasting things has a practical significance. He will help us wait, with patience, and trust that, in God’s time, He will work out His plan as He already had been doing. We’re probably somewhat at the end of the plan, so during the difficulty of life, we must continue to meditate upon what is coming and what God has promised us.
In this life, God permits His people to be troubled and plagued with wars, chaos, crimes, and of all kinds of injuries. Through these things, God sets before us how unstable and fleeting are the things of the world. The things that are connected to the world are passing away, but the things that we are about, are not passing away. We are eternal stuff, so we must always be ready to contemplate the age to come. Such contemplation transforms us, and helps God’s people to live according to Christ’s teaching. Always considering themselves, and ourselves, as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, who seek the joy and peace of God’s future kingdom.
Thinking rightly about the revelation of Jesus Christ is to boaster our faith, and bring comfort during trials, especially those who have endured for the sake of the gospel. Also, it has a purifying effect on our sanctification. 1 John 3:2:
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
When He appears, we will be like Him since we will see Him just as He is. Everyone with this hope, fixed on Him, purifies himself just as He is pure. Therefore, the problem is that we must wait for the full plan of God to be completed.
In the trial, when you are hoping that God will break through and rescue you, you must learn that God will not rescue you from this particular trial, but teach you in this trial. However, you have a future road where there will be no trials, no tears, no death, or disease. We will be in God’s presence, in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, these things must fill our minds as believers that help us through the difficult times in life.
The second problem is that Jesus is veiled. Anybody see Jesus lately? No, you haven’t. He didn’t visit you while you were shaving or taking a bath. A warning, in verse eight, to those who are desiring a sign, a vision, or an experience beyond the experience described in Scripture. It is very dangerous to go there since the Bible says that we have not seen Him, and we will not see Him until the revelation of Jesus Christ. No matter how much we want to see Him, we will not see Him.
Brethren, Jesus, right now is unseen, but He is not unknown, which is the point of faith. He is known from Scripture, from the experience of changed lives, and the Spirit of God transforming us, by the Word of God, into the image of Christ, and these experiences are very real. In verse eight, the two things being dealt with are very vital characteristics of the Christian life. It is dealing with our faith since we don’t see Jesus, but we believe in Him, and it is dealing with our love. We don’t see Jesus, yet we love Him. How is it that you can love somebody and not see Him?
Scripture is emphasizing that all Christians must mature in these two important areas, and, many times, trials are bringing us to trust God, by faith more, and learn to love Him more deeply. Now, Peter saw Jesus before and after His resurrection, and Peter is saying to his readers that it is more blessed and praiseworthy to love Jesus by faith, without seeing Him.
How many Christians die for their faith? They live their life believing in Jesus as if Jesus was some phantom, not real. However, Jesus is very real. When we read Scripture, we see a real person, and we get to know this person. We realize what this person has done for us, and our faith increases. From our passage of Scripture, we go from hope to faith to love, and that’s where trials will bring us. Trials will bring us to be hopeful for the future God promised us, to increase our faith in the person of Jesus Christ and what He has done for us, and it will cause us to love Him more. John 20:26-29:
After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
Peter and Thomas saw Jesus, yet they still struggled with belief. We don’t see, we do struggle with belief, but once the Scriptures grip and transform your mind, you no longer struggle with the belief since you know it is true. The Spirit of God confirms by the Word of God that it is true, and Jesus is true. Therefore, blessed are those who do not see, but believe, which is us. Faith is a vital area in which we must grow. Our faith cannot be doubting or tottering, but firm, strong, endure the trial, and come out in the end stronger.
In dealing with the area of loving God, there is the dialogue Jesus had with Peter, after His resurrection, at a morning breakfast. After finishing the morning breakfast with His disciples, Jesus had something to say to Peter. Jesus was ready to ascend back to heaven, but He had to have this conversation with Peter, who was going to be the lead apostle and the one who would take the gospel to the Jews. Therefore, Peter had to know, John 21:15-17:
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.
Some say that this is equal to the three times Peter denied Christ, so Jesus, including Peter, had to know that his heart was completely with the Lord. In fact, He was stressing to Peter the need to have his priorities in order, which is the love of God first before service of others. We must love God, and that must always be the priority. When Christ shall be revealed to the whole universe, our heavenly salvation will also be revealed. At the revelation, the veils will come off, and it will be a complete salvation. In these sure truths, Christians should continue to rejoice, and remain in the state of jubilate.
Therefore, our faith must mature, and it is going to mature through trials. It will mature to transform our mind to see God’s purpose in suffering. It will mature to look forward to the double unveiling to come, which is not only the commendation of God, but to see Jesus face-to-face. That is the promise in Scripture. We will see Him, which is our desire. Also, to love Jesus without seeing Him. As we love in this life, we grow more to love Christ. If we grow more to love Christ, then we grow more to hate our sin and love what He loves.
Then, to believe God’s word concerning the outcome of our faith. In verse nine, the testing of faith, by trials, brings us to the outcome. When the soul enters heaven, it is the final rescue of the whole person, and that’s what we look forward to with great rejoicing. When we go through trials, knowing these things, knowing the outcome of our faith, we must rejoice. Therefore, the result is worship and praise.
As Christians, we experience His glory now, in all that Jesus has done, accomplished, and promised, but not completely. Until He comes, we will not experience it completely. Until then, there are no adequate words, according to this text, to express the privilege of knowing these profound realities of God’s plan to redeem mankind, with you being included.
When we think about our Christian faith, how come we’re not excited about it, rejoicing, or exploding out of our seats? Maybe because we’re not thinking about our Christian faith, or what God really has done every day. We’re not really pondering the things we ought to, but we’re worrying about things of life, such as our 401k not doing so good if the economy busts or how we will pay the bills.
While those things are of concern, those are not the things we ought to focus on or ponder in our life. We are to ponder these things from the Word of God. If you are not ready for the trials when they come, then you will not respond with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Again, the Apostle is trying to find words to describe what a Christian ought to conclude once they understand what God has done for them, which is to worship and praise. You are to greatly rejoice with the joy inexpressible and full of glory. There is no vocabulary to define what God has done.
Brethren, when you go through a trial, and you will, and if you haven’t, you are going to, and if you have, there will be another one, each time, I guarantee, because of our God, you will be stronger in faith, in hope, and in love, which is the point. At that point, in your Christian life, you will be effective. This world will grow dim, and the Kingdom of God will become a greater desire in your heart. At that point, when it’s hard and faith is difficult, you will enjoy yourself, which is what the passage is talking about. Only God can do this in your life, and you cannot get that from the world, from psychologists, drugs, or any other substitutes. This is all the spirit of God doing it in our life, and don’t you want to live there?
We don’t always live there, but we must want to live there. We ought to wake up in the morning full of joy because we know something someone else doesn’t know, and we want them to know. Us, as believers, have no excuse to not worship and praise God. Let’s pray:
Lord, I do thank You for the Word of God. It is such a scalpel and so precise to our reality. It reaches down to the deepest intents of our heart, and exposes us for who we are. Lord, thank You for the understanding about the purpose of trials. Thank You, Lord, for the trials. Thank You, Lord, for what you do through them, and the outcome for each one of them. I pray, for everyone of us, that we would grow in our hope, faith, and love for You. We want to praise You, and I pray our praise would be praised inexpressibly, filled with joy. Lord, that we would bow down and worship You, and honor You for who You are. I pray we would think rightly of You, and speak honorably about You. I pray that our lives would count as You prepare us for what is coming – for our future. I pray, until that time, and while we are waiting, that we would grow in holiness. I pray this, in Christ’s name, Amen.