Introduction: The believer’s faith in the Lord is the only thing, at times, that will get them through their darkest hours.
After William Carey was well established in his pioneer missionary work in India, his supporters in England sent a printer to assist him. Soon the two men were turning out portions of the Bible for distribution. Carey had spent many years learning the language so that he could produce the Scriptures in the local dialect. He had also prepared dictionaries and grammars for the use of his successors. One day while Carey was away, a fire broke out and completely destroyed the building, the presses, many Bibles, and the precious manuscripts, dictionaries and grammars. When he returned and was told of the tragic loss, he showed no sign of despair or impatience. Instead, he knelt and thanked God that he still had the strength to do the work over again. He started immediately, not wasting a moment in self-pity. Before his death, he had duplicated and even improved on his earlier achievements.
It’s that kind of resolute faith and trust in God that this passage is dealing with. The faith that saved the believers Peter was writing to was the very faith that would see them through this very dark hour of their life.
In this teaching on faith to those believers we, today, can find some very important truths about our own saving faith that will keep us true when things go wrong. That faith is a gift from God that was given to us in order to believe in the grace of God – it’s that faith that will keep us (Eph. 2:8-9).
I. Faith brings hope – vs. 6a
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice”
A. This is pointing back to the previous three verses where hope is the topic
B. It is the hope of heaven that will, in the deepest, darkest hours of despair, keep us pushing forward
II. Faith will be tried – vs. 6b-7
A. There will be “seasons” of trials and temptations
B. It uses the term “if need be” – there will be times of trials for us that are necessary – they are deemed by our Heavenly Father as being “needed” for us, for our good and His glory
Heb 12:10-11 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. 11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Rom 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
C. These seasons are characterized as being in “heaviness through manifold temptations”
The word “heaviness” is often translated “sorrow” and is primarily dealing with grief – “being put to grief” as one author put it
This period of grief comes “through manifold temptations” – the word “manifold” is explained by Vincent as follows: “Literally the word means variegated. It is used to describe the skin of a leopard, the different-colored veinings of marble, or an embroidered robe; and thence passes into the meaning of changeful, diversified, applied to the changing months or the variations of a strain of music.”
These times of necessary trials will be varied, and, for some, many
“Temptations” – trials, putting to the test – described for us in the next verse – “tried with fire”
D. Vs. 7 tells us that the trying of our faith is “much more precious than of gold that perisheth” – that’s one of the hardest statements in the Bible to understand when we are going through the trial – but God knows what we need
E. This trial that they were facing, and the trials that we will face have a purpose – to “be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ”
This is demonstrating that when Jesus comes back for His bride, and we stand before Him at the Judgment Seat of Christ, our faith should be found to be genuine in these character traits – praise, honour and glory
Part of our reward will come from how we dealt with trials – and whether we gave honour and glory to God and praised Him even in times of trials
III. Faith brings joy – vs. 8
A. When faith is tried, and we find the strength through faith in Christ to make it through the trial, it will result in unspeakable joy
B. Don’t confuse joy with happiness – during those darkest hours we will be far from happy, but we can always have “joy unspeakable and full of glory”
C. This joy comes from our love for Christ – even though we’ve never seen Him, yet because of the faith He gave us to believe in His grace, we can believe that we will see Him face to face – and that is the joy unspeakable
Joh 16:22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.
D. “Unspeakable” means unutterable – there are no words to describe it – unable to be told out
2Co 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
E. “And full of glory” – when tried and tested and brought through it by faith, we can rejoice with joy unspeakable, and we can be “full of glory,” praising God to everyone we meet, demonstrating how good our God is
“The saints on earth partake of the same kind of joy which they will have in heaven; for the happiness of heaven will be but an expansion, a prolongation, and a purifying of that which they have here.” (Albert Barnes)
IV. Faith will be rewarded – vs. 9
A. “Receiving the end of your faith” – what a joy to know that there is an end coming to the trials that build our faith
The word “receiving” is a word that means to receive back, to get what was promised – in this context, it is the hope and promise of heaven as given in vs. 3-5 Heb 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
“The end of your faith” – the end-result, the final resting place that faith provided – heaven
B. “Even the salvation of your souls” – this is speaking of the end result of our faith – heaven and eternity with Christ
Conclusion: There is an old fable that says the gold objected to the heat of the furnace and asked how long it should be expected to endure such heat. The answer was, "As soon as the refiner's purpose is accomplished." "And when will that be?" asked the gold. The answer was, "When the refiner can see his own face in you." -- Robert C. Shannon
Can the Refiner see His face in us? The purpose of our trials is just that.