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What's the Purpose of Trials?

What’s the Purpose of Trials?

 Have you ever experienced a trial that left such an impression on you, so as to change you into a different person?  Then you understand completely what Peter is saying in 1 Peter 1:6-9. Some trials cut so deeply that the scare left behind does not begin to tell of the experience you had. The trial was so personal and hurt so badly that it sunk into the depths of your soul and remains with you to this day. Have you ever experienced such a trial? It was so personal and so deep that the only thing to conclude was that an almighty all-knowing God could have designed such a trial. Who else knows you so well as to have you walk through what you have walked through? So, what is the function of such a personal trial? Peter shows us 4 things that trials produce.   

  1. Trials produces genuine faith “The tested genuineness of your faith” (vs. 6)

 Trials are the dividing line which proves a believer’s faith. Jesus says it this way.

 Mk. 4:16-17 “And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.”

 A person may wrongly think that trials are unnecessary to achieve the end goal of a genuine faith but Scripture teaches otherwise. When a believer experiences such a personal trial from God and keeps their faith through it, they are surer of God’s sustaining power than ever. Trials function as a dividing line in the life of a believer. The trial leaves such an impression on their faith that there is no turning back from pursuing God’s plan. True believers persevere under trial. James says it this way.

 James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Your trial is doing something! It’s not for no nothing! 

  1. Trials produce stronger faith “Though it is tested by fire” (vs. 7)

Peter uses the analogy of Gold being purged in fire for two reasons. 1) To explain the process of refinement in the believer, and 2) to compare the value of Gold to the value of your faith. The process of refining Gold to remove the dross is like the process of trials that remove unnecessary impurities. In other words, fire is a good thing in these verses not a bad thing. An untested faith is a faith with remaining impurities. Faith, like Gold, must be tested with fire to purge out the dross of worldly pursuits and replaces them with faith, which is more valuable than gold. The result is a stronger faith.

The second reason Peter uses Gold is to compare pure Gold to faith. Faith is more valuable than Gold! God gives his children the most valuable thing they could ever have. He is the best father who gives the best to his children. Trials remove the blinders that keep us from seeing our faith as the most precious thing we possess. Without trials our hearts would pursue lesser joys which are not as valuable, keeping us from a mature faith in God. So, don’t run from the fire! Embrace the Fire!

  1. Trials Produce Inexpressible Joy (vs. 8)

This is why trials produce Joy! The trial allows us to see clearly. God is giving us the most valuable thing we could ever possess. Though you have not seen him, you love him, and rejoice. You cannot physically see God but you experience God through the trials he sends and become assured that he is working on your faith. 

  1. Trials Produce Complete Salvation “The outcome of your faith” (9)

 The end result of a pure faith, tested in the fire, is mature, complete or finished faith. You would surely exchange your eternal salvation for temporary trials, wouldn’t you? Of course, you would! Rejoice, your salvation is coming soon. James says it this way.

 James 1:12 “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him”

 

 

Posted by Matt Williams

A Broken-Hearted Church

You know it when you see it and miss it when it’s not there. Have you ever been a part of a broken-hearted church? Like people, churches go through ups and downs. Seasons of heart felt compassion for the lost and a hatred for their sin. The two usually go together. I have been praying for God to bless our church with conversions. Real conversions. I am not interested in transfer growth. I am driven by a desire to see us add to our number by one on one gospel conversations that lead to salvations. As much as I desire this I am also sure of one thing. God will not bless our church with salvations until we become broken-hearted for the lost around us.

            Take Psalm 51 and apply it to your church. We should be praying that God has mercy on us and not give up on us. We should request that his Spirit not depart from us because of our cold indifference to the lost around us. Our prayer should be, “Create in us a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.” A heart and a spirit that is freshly renewed with evangelistic zeal. David prays, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” God despises our carelessness. I despise my carelessness. But I care that, sometimes, I don’t care. God will not despise a church who is broken-hearted for the lost. A church that cries out to God and begs him for the blessing of more disciples will be blessed. Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Mt. 7:7). If the king of Nineveh can issue a city-wide decree to fast and pray for God to relent from a disaster then our church can collectively join our broken hearts and call out to the Lord of the harvest to give us souls. Ask and keep asking until he grants the request. The Church needs the piety of Ezra at the evening sacrifice (Ezra 9) when we fall to our knees and spread out our hands to the Lord, ashamed at our indifference to winning the lost to Christ. And if people refuse us, let it not be because we did not pray, and did not ask, and did not plead with them to turn. God is a merciful God and will hear our prayer. His desire is a broken-hearted people who cry out to him for lost souls. 2 Cron. 7:7 say, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

            How much more barrenness can the church stomach? On and on and on, Sunday after Sunday with no souls! When will enough be enough? How long will we hide our lights under the baskets of indifference? When will the people of God pray in one voice for God to grant life and speak to dry bones? I pray that we do before its too late. May God grant us to be a broken-hearted Church.

Posted by Matt Williams

Remember Lot's Wife

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“Remember Lot’s wife”

-Luke 17:32

This is a fresh reminder from our Lord Jesus not to look back. The context in Luke is the second coming of Christ. Jesus is describing His return as something that is expected yet sudden. Expected in the sense that there will be signs and warnings leading up to it. Sudden in the sense that most people will ignore those signs and simply live their lives. Noah experienced this willful ignorance when he warned the people of rain and built the ark in their very presence. The people “went on eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah entered the ark and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Lk. 17:26). Jesus says His return will be similar to this. People will be involved in things they see to be important. After all isn’t marriage important? Don’t you want you kids to grow up and marry a godly spouse? Sure, you do and this is important. However, we can’t cling so tightly to temporary things that we neglect eternal things.  

          Apparently, Lots wife had something to look back upon. Something she longed for. Perhaps she just wanted one last memory overlooking her home. Whatever it was, the Lord turned her into a pillar of salt. The lesson here is don’t look back! Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62). If you follow Christ don’t look longingly on your past life and wish you were still there for the former way we conducted ourselves will be burned with fire. “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away! (Gen. 19:17).

The famous puritan preacher John Bunyan wrote about this reality in the Pilgrims Progress. In the beginning of his analogy of the Christian life he describes a scene in which he must flee from his home, the city of destruction, in order to be saved. Let us follow the example of Paul when he says, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Phil. 3:13). I will leave you with the forth stanza of Martin Luther’s famous hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God” when he writes, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His Kingdom is forever.”

Posted by Matt Williams
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