Why Does God Test Your Faith

Why Does God Test Your Faith – by Brady Tarr

1 Peter 1:3-9

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—maybe found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  8 Though you have not seen him you love him.  Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

God Tests Our Faith

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—maybe found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

In verse 6, there are several profound truths that we need to consider about trials and suffering.  First, Peter states, “In this you rejoice”.  What does the word “this” refer to in this phrase?  “This” agrees grammatically in Greek with “hope” found in verse 3 and not inheritance or salvation even though these three terms are closely related in this passage.  As Christians, our joy is found in the hope that we have in the finished work of Christ.  Trials help us come to the end of ourselves because they often force us to hope in and depend on God instead of in ourselves or in comfortable circumstances.

Second, Peter writes that the trials that cause us grief will only last for a little while.   They are temporary.  Peter doesn’t say this to minimize the debilitating and enduring trials that some of us face.  Instead, Peter’s words are designed to be an encouragement to us because trials, even ones that last a lifetime, are infinitely brief in light of eternity.  The eternal hope we have in Jesus Christ is a trial defying hope that causes us to persevere in faith no matter what our circumstances are. 

Third, suffering and trials come in a variety of forms.  Every Christian will experience some form of persecution according to 2 Timothy 3:12 which says, “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  But as I think we all know, trials are in no way limited to persecution.  Trials take on many shapes and sizes and vary in their severity.  For example, it is trying for a Christian son or daughter when they lose a parent after a divorce.  It is also trying when a Christian loses a friend because he/she will not participate in the sinful activities that everyone else is participating in.  The various types of injuries or sicknesses we can get are all trials whether our sickness is a life ending cancer or a common cold or whether our injury is a stubbed toe or a paralyzing diving accident. 

During my life and athletic ventures, God has guarded my faith as he has brought me through several different types of injuries.  On the more minor end, I have had a total of eight sprained ankles.  I tore my MCL the first game of my senior year in high school after working hard to be in the best shape of my life.  I had a more severe injury when I nearly lost my life from a head injury after having a snow skiing accident in Colorado.  As I reflected on these trials, it became apparent to me that God truly caused all the trials that I went through to work together for my good.  Many of you heard me share last week how God used the skiing accident to change my vocational path from Optometry school to Pastoral ministry. 

What are we to do when we find ourselves in a trial that we can’t understand how God is working if for our good?  Some possible trials that might fall into this category are: when a loved one dies suddenly, or when you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, or when you lose your job and can’t provide for your family, or you marriage is on the rocks and seems to be headed for a divorce unless something miraculous happens.  The list could go on.  When we find ourselves in a trial that doesn’t make sense to us we are to do as it says in James 1:5 and ask God for wisdom trusting that he will give you understanding of the purpose for your trial. 

Recently my pastor was teaching on trials and said the when we find ourselves in trial where it is not apparent what good God is working through it “we must pray for wisdom to see God’s sovereignty in our trials.  We must pray for God to instruct our hearts so that we will trust Him, and sincerely acknowledge that God does all things well.  We pray so that He helps us to see His love, and His faithfulness and His goodness, even in our most painful trials.  We pray to be His sheep who hear and know and cherish and are calmed by and who trust His voice.  We pray for wisdom to learn useful lessons through the crosses He calls us to bear.  We pray for patience.  We pray to be able to consider them pure joy.  Is it right for me to suffer this trial?  Is it necessary?  Is it useful?  We pray and trust God with these answers.” 

Let’s look back at verses 6 and 7 again.

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—maybe found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 

Fourth, trials serve a purpose.  When Peter says that we will suffer trials, if necessary, what does he mean? In light of the sovereignty of God, the answer to this question is that Christians will experience grief only as it is necessary in light of God’s great and infinitely wise purposes for them. 

In light of verse 7, Peter tells us that the overall purpose of trials is to test the genuineness of a Christian’s faith.  Peter further clarifies the effect that trials have on a Christian’s faith, with an example, of refining gold with fire.  Peter is teaching that trials are occasions when God refines and purifies the faith of his people in the same way gold is refined by fire.  The trials burn away any impurities in the believer’s faith.  What is left when the trials have ended is purified, genuine faith, analogous to the pure gold that emerges from the refiner’s fire.  As valuable as gold is, it is not as precious as our faith because genuine faith will never pass away. 

It says in verse 7 that the genuine faith of a Christian will result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  This should cause us to ask a significant question.  Who will get the praise, glory, and honor for a Christian enduring trials with genuine faith when Christ returns?  When Christians suffer grief in all kinds of trials, THEY will receive praise and honor and glory for faithfully enduring them, BUT the Lord Jesus Christ will also receive praise.  Think about this with me for a moment.  When each Christian in this room endures a trial faithfully, we will bring praise to the one who suffered the wrath of God for our sin.  It is an awesome opportunity that a trial presents us with! 

When we are presented with a trial, we need to understand that each one of the variety of trials that we face is “a specially built platform for us to witness to those around us that God is worth more than our difficult circumstances.  That he is greater than whatever your trial would take from you.  And that he is sufficient.” 

If you are a here today and aren’t a Christian, trials mean something drastically different for you.  You need to understand your trials as a taste of the eternal suffering you will begin to experience the moment you die.  This passage in 1 Peter is filled with hope that is grounded in faith in Christ, but you don’t have faith in Christ; and therefore, you have no hope.  I plead with you to repent of your sin and to trust in Jesus Christ for your salvation.   

Some of you might be thinking to yourself, “When I mess up and sin during a trial, does it mean that my faith is not genuine?”  Not necessarily.  Look at the life of Peter himself.  Jesus warned Peter that he would deny him three times.  Did he faithfully endure the trial?  No, he didn’t.  He failed.  Actually, he miserably failed to be faithful when he was faced with that trial.  Even though there is no more serious sin than the one he committed, the Bible reveals to us that he genuinely repented of his sin, trusted that he was forgiven in Christ, and continued to live by faith….genuine faith.  A life of faithfulness is reflective of genuine faith.

 

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