THE REFINER’S FIRE

RonDiCianni-TheRefinersFire

1 Peter 1:6-7…..”In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

One of the tests of genuine faith in Jesus Christ is how we respond to the trials and sufferings we go through in this life.  Popular tele-evangelists stand before their congregations, whether they’re sitting in the pews of their church, or sitting on their living room couch watching them on TV, and declare with boldness that “if you just have the right amount of faith, you can experience God’s blessings on your life” in the form of material/monetary wealth, a life free of sickness, and everything will go YOUR way from getting that dream job, or, as Joel Osteen once said, getting that prime parking space close to the door at the shopping mall.  Seriously.  He said that.  He claimed that it was God’s favor upon your life if you were able to get that first parking space near the shopping mall door.  Unfortunately, a vast number of people have fallen for this crap that these so-called “Christian” preachers spew from their mouths and now we have a Christian religion that bases their standing with God or measures the amount of love that God has for them on whether they’re experiencing “worldly” wealth.  They view trials, struggles, and pain as things God uses to punish them because they think their faith is weak.  This is not so.  First of all, trials and adversities are tools God uses to test to see if our faith is REAL.  Not that HE doesn’t know if our faith is real.  He knows who has true genuine faith, but these tests show to US who are true believers and who aren’t.  Another reason God allows us to experience them is so that we will rely on HIM and Him alone for our strength.  Many people boast of how “strong” they are having come through a certain trial, when in reality, it wasn’t their strength, but God’s that got them through.  Thirdly, these trials are designed to get rid of anything within us that prevents us from becoming more like Christ.

In regards to the first point, we have to understand that the faith required for our salvation does NOT come from us.  Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that genuine faith is a “gift from God.”  Our faith to believe is given to us by God Himself.  It is not something we try to pull up from within our own selves.  Those with true, genuine faith that comes from God, will endure whatever pain and suffering they go through, finding out that their faith is that much stronger.  Those who go through trials and at the end declare that they have “lost their faith” in God, never had true faith anyway.  They were relying on their own “faith” which withers under adversity.  It is here that we can know who the true believers are from those who were imposters.

As for the second point, God never intended for us to be dependent upon ourselves to get through this life on our own.  Our strength is frail and, just as with our human faith, it withers when we face hardships that come our way.  God puts people in our lives to help us so that we won’t feel alone and burdened under the weight of our trials, but we have to be willing to open up and expose our frailty.  It’s good to know that when we admit our weaknesses and failures, there are others who know and understand what we’re going through because THEY have gone through it, also.

Third, trials help rid us of those things in our life that prevent us from being more like Christ.  Just as with gold and silver in a refiner’s fire, the impurities are separated from the precious metal and removed so that once it comes out of the fire, it is in it’s purest form.  We are like the gold and silver.  God puts us into the fire (trials and struggles) so that He can remove those impurities within us so that when we come out of the fire, we have been rid of them and we can be more like Christ.

American Christianity has been sold a bill of goods.  Many Christians are taught that trials and sufferings are signs of God’s displeasure with us and that it reveals just how weak our faith is.  But, in reality, it shows how REAL and TRUE and GENUINE our faith is because we were able to persevere under those trials.  If we can’t say that, then our faith is false and our profession of salvation is false.  True faith cannot be lost because it is secured by God.  Anyone who ever says they lost their faith, never had it to begin with.

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