#214, THE TRIAL OF OUR FAITH
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, 1PE 1:7.
When you stop to analyze the meaning and the mind of the Spirit when dealing with the trial of your faith, you realize the trial is more precious than gold. What is the meaning of a trial of your faith? Our faith is tried in many, many ways in every respect--spiritual and otherwise. Lets consider the particular trial of faith referred to in our text. This refers to a trial of the obedience of faith.
Those who possess true saving faith are not only able to tell of how the Lord has tried their faith, but they also tell how they must frequently try themselves. They must examine their own heart and try their own soul. Where there is so much at stake, we must be sure. We must not have a false faith; there is so much faith that is not saving faith.
In JOH 3:1-21 we find a sermon Jesus preached to one man, Nicodemus. He came to Jesus in the night to keep from being revealed. At the conclusion, Jesus said "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God," JOH 3:21. We must be born again; we must lift up the Lord Jesus Christ as the brazen serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, Verse 14. Jesus preached these things to Nicodemus, but in the conclusion we come to the exercise of saving faith. Our faith must be put into action; we must come to the light with our deeds to be sure they are wrought in God.
David saw the need for his faith to be able to stand the light of Gods countenance, and he came to the light to be examined: "that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." David asked the Lord to prove the genuineness of his faith by his walk of life. This is the meaning of the trial of our faith being more precious than gold. Our faith will be tried by our walk of life.
David said in PSA 26:1-2, "Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart." Do you see the trial of Davids faith? What came first? It was the obedience of faith because David walked in integrity and trust in the Lord. They were not separated. His walk of life was the trial of his faith. David was one who "doeth truth [and] cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." That is saving faith in exercise. If you and I cannot come to the light because it condemns us, our problem is unbelief, i.e., not having saving faith. If we have saving faith, we are able to walk to the light and ask to be examined and tried. It means being able to say that I walked in my integrity and trust in the Lord, that I was able to put my Isaac on the altar, to walk in submission to the Lord, but we want confirmation that we did Gods will.
David asked God to examine and try him. Then notice the very next verses where the motive of his heart is evident. David had a heart religion. As David, "...cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God," he pleads for his God to examine the motives of his heart. We are now getting into the trial of saving faith. Lets look at PSA 26:3-8; "For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth. I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evildoers; and will not sit with the wicked. I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth."
Do we dare to come before the Lord to plead for our heart to be examined? Do we dare ask the Lord if our motive is right? If it isnt, show me my sin that I might correct it. That is putting our faith on trial. David speaks about his conduct and the company he keeps. He will not go with those who will not observe the first and second tables of the law, i.e., to love God above all and to love our neighbor as ourselves. David can come before the light because he walks in the truth. The obedience of faith is tried to prove its genuineness.
Now see how David pleads for Gods restraining grace. He knows his own heart and the corruption within it. Therefore, he can come to the Lord to plead for His restraining grace. "Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men: In whose hands is mischief, and their right hand is full of bribes. But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me. My foot standeth in an even place: in the congregations will I bless the LORD," PSA 26:9-12.
David saw the emptiness in his own strength, and that if the Lord would leave him to himself he would fall. He saw the filthiness and pollution of sin. Now he pleads for restraining grace. The motive of Davids heart is shown in his statement, "But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity: redeem me, and be merciful unto me." The longing desire of his heart is to have Gods mercy and be redeemed from all iniquity. It is the deep desire of his heart that the Lord will restrain him with restraining grace, spare and preserve him so he does not fall in the snares of the wicked.
Those who understand Davids faith, love the most searching and discriminating preaching best. Why? They want to come to the light where their faith is on trial. They want to know the worst as well as the best. They want to know if there is an evil within them because they want to do what is pleasing unto the Lord. It is the trial of saving faith that is more precious than gold.
2CO 13:5 tells us, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" It is a continual examination to see the motive and desires of our heart. The trial of our faith is to find out what is truly in our heart. Is it truly our walk of life? We are to lay everything back before the Lord to know our own selves, and that the Spirit of Christ is in us. If it is not in us, we are reprobates. We must constantly examine our heart to discover the ways we are falling short of Gods will. It is a constant effort.
As we can see from the greatest trial on record of Abrahams saving faith, it was a trial of obedience. In Scriptures Abraham is recorded as being the Father of the faithful, the friend of God, and he was one of the most tried people recorded in Scripture.
GEN 22:11-12 says, "And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." Stop and analyze the extent and magnitude of Abrahams trial of faith that was more precious than gold. It was a trial of obedience. Reread that verse. When we say the trial of our faith is more precious than gold, are we able to let our honor go in the mud, let our gold and silver be trampled under foot, and let everything go rather than disobey the Word of God? Will we absolutely refuse to knowingly and willfully disobey the will of God? Are we willing to be put to shame and come to the Lord as David did saying, "I will wash mine hands in innocency"?
Without the exercise of saving faith, our faith is dead as a body without a soul as we see in JAM 2:20-26, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac, his son, upon the altar?" You see, it was by works, the exercise of saving faith, and the trial of obedience that Abraham received justification in his soul. That does not mean he merited salvation by his actions; justification was sealed to him then; it was his assurance of eternal security. Abraham was justified by works because by faith he obeyed. He put his son on the altar, then the Lord restrained him because he had proved that he feared God. Abraham knew his future was secure for God looked upon him in His love.
Verse 22 continues, "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? [Do you see that Abrahams trial was a trial of obedience.] And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. [Where is Abrahams proof of assurance for his soul? It was in his obedience; it was through Abrahams trial of obedience that God knew he feared God.] Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. [It is by the exercise of saving faith that we have justification sealed to our soul.] Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
As we see from our text, God tries our faith for His own Glory. The Lord is glorified when we are able to stand the test of obedience of faith. "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ," 1PE 1:7. The purpose is that our faith, being more precious than gold, is for the glory of Christ. Look at how God the Father was glorified by the faith of Abraham. It has been proclaimed to the ends of the earth that Abraham was able to put his son on the altar as an act of obedience of faith.
Lets consider what is "...found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." If Scripture is to be unfolded in the meaning of the Holy Spirit, it must be kept in context. That means it must first be unfolded in the context in which it was placed; then it must be held in the context of the Bible as a whole. Lets take this verse and go back in the chapter to find the topic being considered. 1PE 1:15-16 says, "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." We are talking about the trial of our faith that is more precious than gold. We see here that God looks at holiness.
The chapter before us tells us what it is that God sees at as pure. 1PE 1:22 tells us, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." Now go back to Verse 2 of that same chapter; "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied," 1PE 1:2.
It is through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit that we are able to obey the truth. It is there that our hearts are motivated to do that which is pleasing unto God. Obeying the truth through the Spirit shows love as a motive, but love is also the fruit. I just cant get beyond one statement that the Lord Jesus Christ made; "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets," MAT 22:40. The entire gospel hangs upon our loving God above all and our neighbour as ourselves.
Now watch how we see this in the context; "Be ye holy; for I am holy." There is your first table of the law. Then in Verse 22 we read, "...unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." That is the second table of the law. Where is the trial of our faith? It is in the obedience of the law of love. Are we able to be a little self-denying and take second place so we do not offend our brother? Cf. PHI 3:1-5. That is a trial of faith. Are we able, for peaces sake and love, to take the lower room, preferring the other person above ourselves? These are trials of faith you and I must endure so we might show love for one another, "...obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently." Our love for our Saviour compels us to act fervently rather than be passive or neutral.
In context with our text we are told how God will judge on the great day of accounting. That is when the proof comes out about whether or not we have saving faith. What was the exercise of our faith? 1PE 1:17 says, "And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every mans work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear; [in holy reverence for God and His will]." We must understand that on the Day of Judgment every man will be judged according to his works. Where is our obedience of faith? We can have great faith, enough to move mountains, but if we do not have charity, we have nothing but presumption, Cf. 1CO 13:1-5. All that faith is nothing but presumption if it is not accompanied by charity. The Lord will bring us into judgment according to our works.
GAL 5:6 says, "For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. God is not pleased with a legalistic obedience, but He is pleased with the exercise of saving faith, which is motivated by love. Take notice of the motivation of your heart. You and I can accomplish a deed with several different motivations. Those identical deeds can be an act of saving faith or merely a religious exercise. We could be following Satans gospel, which teaches that works merit heaven; that would be motivation of merit. It might be a Pharisaical works that would be seen of men and brings them praise. The motivation could be one of slavish fear to do good works lest he be beaten or damned.
The true believer, through the exercise of saving faith, works from a motive of love. He serves the Lord because he loves Him; Christ has made such a great sacrifice to redeem such a wretched, miserable creature out of the pit of hell. ISA 51:1 says, "Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged." It is the pit from whence he was "digged" by the Father who sent His Son who humbled Himself unto death. He sees the great price the Son paid to redeem such a wretch. That prompts such love and such a desire to do what is pleasing to the Lord.
Those who truly love the Lord know it is not because he merits one thing, nor to be seen of men, but to glorify such a loving God and Redeemer. The motive is love; it was love that placed salvations plan in our way. Now our motivation must be love. We have to love our brother; we do the things called good works because we love him. He has a never dying soul. If our brother is less perfect than we are, we must pray that the Lord will redeem him as well. That means we do not have a stone to throw at a brother. Saving faith will motivate the true believer to serve his God whether or not there be a heaven or hell. We are not to serve God to merit heaven or to escape hell, but we are to serve God from a motive of love.
PSA 119:97 says, "O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day." Davids words express the desires of the heart that is purified by the trials and exercised by saving faith. As we go through these trials of saving faith that are more precious than gold, we see what a preciousness there is in obedience to the Lord. Then we are able to put aside everything that would be gain for ourselves to do what we believe would please the Lord.
PSA 119:101-106 says, "I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments."
We see Davids motivation of love in those verses. He had such a delight in the law of God. He had such a love of Gods law that he meditated on it day and night. David is pleading the Word of God that is more precious to him than anything in this world. That is not slavish servitude. The only acceptable service to the Lord is performed with delight, not out of compulsion.
The revelation of the mystery, kept secret since the world began "But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith," ROM 16:26. That is powerful. The exercise of saving faith is the trial of "...the obedience of faith." To elaborate a little on this, we are speaking of the mystery of the obedience of faith had been kept secret since the foundation of the world. We look to that in the obedience of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Now refer to HEB 12:2 to find where we look for our faith; see the reflection of the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ as being the object of our faith. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
We are to look unto the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Author and the Finisher of our faith as our example of the obedience of faith. Jesus was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; He endured the cross in humble obedience the His Father. His endurance was the evidence of His obedience of faith. That is the mystery that was kept secret since the beginning of the world and is revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, He becomes the Author and Finisher of our faith. So when we talk about the trial of our faith, we are speaking about the trial of the obedience of faith. We must run the race, laying aside every weight and the sins that so easily beset us, Cf. HEB 12:2. What price are you and I willing to pay to obey and walk in the way of the revealed will of God?
Saving faith cannot be separated from the obedience of faith. 1JO 2:3-4 says, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." The Apostle John was probably the man richest in experiences on Holy record. As the apostle of love, he lay in the Saviours bosom, he was at the Mount of Transfiguration. John was on the Isle of Patmos where He received the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and wrote the book of Revelations. Is experience the key? No. It was this same Apostle John who said we know Him if we keep His commandments.
One cannot claim to have entered into the merits of Christs blood or His High Priestly intercession without coming through the conduit of "...sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience," which is the context in which our text is found. We see that in 1PE 1:2, "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied."
The parable of the Prodigal Son teaches that he had a desire for the inheritance, but he had no love for the father. He wanted to take his inheritance to satisfy his lusts. When he repented and went back to his father, he asked to be made a hired servant. He wanted to be in the service of his father.
There is no justification by faith, nor salvation by grace to those who remain in their rebellion and self-willed enmity against Gods revealed will. No person will ever come unto the "marriage of the Lamb" who has not made himself ready. We cannot wish for the blessings of grace if we have not been saved from sin by grace. If we do not know what it is to be saved from sin by grace, we may not expect the blessings of grace.
In REV 19:7-8 we read, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." The wife made herself ready through the trial of faith, the fire of the trial, wherein the gold and silver came forth. Silver is the emblem of purity. The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints and the imparted righteousness of Christ in their hearts so they now walk in the Spirit of Christ. That is the way they made themselves ready.
Those who are honest with themselves desire to have their faith tried. The presumptuous love to hear about the finished work of Christ and eternal security which strengthens their false peace. The presumptuous count the preaching of self-examination for the exercise of saving faith as unbelief and destructive to his faith, therefore He will count you as an enemy of his version of the truth.
Those who live in presumption have a power of the mind, have accepted Jesus Christ by faith, and they do not like it if someone preaches saving faith to them. Why? Their presumptions are revealed. The characteristic of saving faith is that it gives the heart a victory over the world. If we have not gained the victory over the world, we do not have true saving faith. 1JO 5:4 says, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." You see, it is our faith that overcomes the world; if we are still serving the world, we have not overcome it.
Take notice that this victory over the world is not sought in our own strength. We, in our own strength, are not able to build our own righteousness. JOH 16:33 says, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." How can you or I overcome the world? It is by faith in Christ and Christ in you and you in Christ. It is a marriage union where you and Christ are one. Therein we have our victory over the world.
You and I cannot overcome our evil heart. We cannot overcome one sin in our own strength. That brings us to the point where we must flee to Christ because He has overcome the world. Thats how we overcome the world through the exercise of saving faith.
Christ overcame the world for His people, and now "through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience" 1PE 1:2, He overcomes the world in them. The world becomes distasteful; we learn to hate things we previously loved, and we learn to love the things we had hated. It is accomplished in the heart through the work of regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
Our eye of faith is opened to see the emptiness of all that the world has to offer as the Spirit weans us by showing us those precious things of Christ. When the Lord gives us the working of grace in the heart, the world becomes so empty. We come to the point that we hate sin and anything that comes from sin. We see the uncleanness of anything that comes from sin. It becomes obnoxious to us. That is the working of sanctification of the Holy Spirit; in so doing we learn to see the preciousness there is in Christ.
2CO 5:14-15 tells us, "For the love of Christ constraineth us [That means His love moves upon us irresistibly]; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." If the Lord has given us a faiths view of Christs suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and the love that placed Him there, then the love of Christ constrains us, moves upon us irresistibly. When we see the price that was paid for sin, we become dead to sin. It was the love of the Father that gave His Son, and it was the love of the Son that gave Himself obediently to the death of the cross. Sin becomes the most hateful thing in our lives. We flee from it. The love of Christ has a constraining power.
We cannot expect to live after the flesh and reap eternal life. This philosophy attempts to mock the Judge before whom we must appear. It is blasphemy and mockery to think that we can live a worldly life and have eternal life. The Judge before whom we must appear tells us in GAL 6:7-10, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
God will not be mocked. If we think we can plant and sow worldly things in this life and reap everlasting life, we are mocking God and the Judge of heaven and earth. However, continue in the verses and you see the law of love. Do you see the second table of the law of loving our neighbors as ourselves? Notice the word therefore. It signals the conclusion of what is being said. We are being told to put the law of love into action. That is the exercise of saving faith, the trial of our faith. If we can pass the trial of faith, we are able to crucify self, place the other person ahead of ourselves, and do good to all people, especially the household of faith.
So the question must arise in every concerned heart: how do I obtain a genuine saving faith seeing it is a gift of God? Saving faith must be given to us by God. EPH 2:8-10 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Gods Word tells us how we can obtain this gift. There is a difference between thinking we can obtain genuine saving faith in our own merit, have access to it by our rights, or obtaining it as a gift. The Word of God tells us how we can do that. We find the explanation in EZE 36:26, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." That is the gift of faith that we need.
This is a precious promise, but how do we obtain such a promise? EZE 36:37 answers, "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock." We must come as a beggar; we pray for it. The Lord has already said He would give us the gift if we ask for it. "If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" LUK 11:13.
Is it too much to ask? Is it too large a trial to require us to ask? He wants us on our knees in a childlike spirit knowing that our guilt needs to be cleansed, our need of a new heart and spirit, and that we are able to come and beg for it. That is number one.
The second means to obtain saving faith is by the written and preached Word. ROM 10:16-17, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." That second means of obtaining saving faith is walking in the way of obedience to Gods ordained way. We come under the proclamation of the Word under His God sent ministries and through the means He has provided.
The third way is to search the Scriptures for in them we think we have eternal life; those who do are those who testify of Him. Faith cometh by hearing. Faith is a gift, but we must pray for it, beg for it, and come under His ordained way obediently. In His intercessory prayer Jesus said in JOH 17:20, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word." That is coming under the proclamation of the Word according to His ordained way.
The Apostle Paul taught this same principle in 1CO 3:5-6, "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." It is a gift from God; He gives the faith by the hearing of His Word. The Lord also must give faith by the hearing of the Word by those whom He has sent who are truly preaching the Word, not perverting the Word. We must seek the truth, find where it is being preached, and come under the ministry of the Word. We must seek and ask.
Paul also taught this principle in 2TI 3:15, "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."
Faith starts with the hearing of the Word; that begins in the household by the parents, the father and the mother, teaching the children and bringing them up in the fear and nurture of the Lord. The gospel must be preached so that it is a reproof, a correction, and instruction in righteousness. David said in PSA 119:93, "I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me." The law of love has a quickening power as we see in Davids case. He was so grateful that he would never forget His precepts. David is an example of the quickening power--not the cause.
Therefore, read the Scriptures prayerfully. "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me," JOH 5:39. We read in EZE 36:37, "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock." God will have us inquire of Him so He might do it for us. The Lord is waiting to be gracious, kind, and merciful, but He will be asked. Amen.
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