1 Peter 1:6-7

“You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith—more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Peter starts this next section by saying “You rejoice in this.” The footnote in the Blue Letter Bible says, “In this fact rejoice.” Which fact is Peter referring to? It is referring to the future hope in verses 3-5. He is reminding them that even though they will suffer for a brief time, in the grand scheme of things, our time on earth is so short! 

Let’s look at the word rejoice. The verb in Greek is not used by secular writers. It is a word used to express a deep spiritual joy. Here are some examples we see in the Bible. Mary rejoices about carrying Jesus the Savior. “And Mary said: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” (Luke 1:46-47). The Philippian jailer rejoices at his salvation. “He brought them into his house, set a meal before them, and rejoiced because he had come to believe in God with his entire household” (Acts 16:34). And Peter uses this word later in his letter when he reminds his readers to rejoice in their sufferings because of the end result.  “Instead, rejoice as you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may also rejoice with great joy when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13). 

Peter then moves on to suffering. Grief and joy are both part of the Christian life. But we can be comforted knowing that our sufferings, our grief, are not in vain. Wayne Grudem writes, “Peter says therefore that Christians will experience grief only as it is necessary in the light of God’s great and wise purposes for them.”

Peter uses the analogy of our faith being purified like gold through a fire. I looked up how gold was refined in those days. One interesting thing that I realized is that before it is the gold that we recognize, it is part of a rock. It does not look anything like gold.  It must be separated out. Next it is purified. It is put through a fire at a high temperature to remove the impurities. Sometimes it goes through this process several times.  So as Christians, first we are called out to be different from the world, then we are purified. As we go through the trials of life, these are the times our faith grows. We learn that our strength is not enough, that our hope is in Christ alone.

I am going to digress for a minute and say that there is a huge branch of Christianity Today that says we should have health and wealth and prosperity. One name for it is Kingdom Now theology. But this goes against so much of what the Bible teaches. God grows us through our trials. If we got everything we asked for, can you imagine what kind of people we would be? We’ve seen what kind of people children who are given everything they ask for turn out like. Why would God do that to us? In James, we are told, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).  Paul writes in Philippians, “For it has been granted to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are engaged in the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have” (1:29-30).  I could go on, but I think that I have made my point.

One more thing about our suffering. Some may mistakenly believe that we should not be grieved by our trials. A strong Christian should be able to stand up to a trial with no problem. Nonsense! Notice that Paul writes that we will suffer grief in various trials. It is okay to be grieved when we go through them. It is a necessary part.

Peter compares our faith to gold but then goes on to say that it is more valuable than gold. Grudem writes, “Though gold for centuries has been a commonly understood symbol for the most precious and lasting of material possessions, genuine faith is more precious (literally, ‘much more precious’) than either gold or, by implication, any other material possession.”

The last part of this section states that the result is praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. We may not know why we must suffer these trials in this lifetime. Wayne Grudem writes, “Some will only be discovered at the day of official judgment when the Lord reveals the secrets of all hearts and commends with special honor those who trusted him in hardship even though they could not see the reason for it; they trusted him simply because he was their God and they knew him to be worthy of trust.”

To conclude this passage, our faith is tested for these reasons. It is tested to show that it is sincere. It is tested to show its strength. And it is tested to purify it. I will wrap up with this lengthy quote from Charles Spurgeon:

“Indeed, it is the honor of faith to be tried. Shall any man say, ‘I have faith, but I have never had to believe under difficulties?’ Who knows whether thou hast any faith? Shall a man say, ‘I have great faith in God, but I have never had to use it in anything more than the ordinary affairs of life, where I could probably have done without it as well as with it?’ Is this to the honor and praise of thy faith? Dost thou think that such a faith as this will bring any great glory to God, or bring thee any great reward? If so, thou art mightily mistaken.”

Grace be with you!


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