Sermon

God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Present Trials, Future Glory (Deuteronomy 8:1-2 and 1 Peter 1:6-9)

Is it “joy” to “suffer?” How should we view and face trials in this life? Can we still be joyful in the face of trials?

RECAP: The whole thing said about the living hope and security of the salvation of believers as reason for rejoicing in trials. “Dahil dito, dapat kayong magalak sa kabila ng iba’t-ibang mga pagsubok”

[Transition]: Peter begins the theme of trials and suffering in 1 Peter 1:6-9

Read 1 Peter 1:6-7

Subpoint 1: The nature of our trials and suffering (v. 6)

“if need be” or “if being necessary”

  • “something fitting” – Nararapat lang na nararanasan nila
  • Given the context: The society is beginning to persecute the Christians. 
  • And if that is the world around them (anti-Christ), it is only fitting that they would suffer.
  • See John 15:18-19. Given their situation, it is only necessary that they suffer.

EXPLANATION:

This implies that there is a suffering that is not fitting/necessary for a Christian (cf. 1 Pet. 4:15), and it is not always necessary for Christians to experience suffering. What do you mean?

  • CLARIFY: Two extremes (as Christians we must always be suffering, or we shouldn’t be suffering at all)
    • “Christians always be suffering”
      • Do we need to be persecuted like those in Pakistan to be proven as a Christian church?
      • EXAMPLE: A question shared by Jeff Reblando, “Bakit yung mga unbelievers nagiging prosperous, yung mga believers naghihirap.” (As if prosperity is only associated with unbelievers/wicked, and suffering is only for Christians)
    • “Christians should never suffer” (Prosperity)
      • EXAMPLE: “Your best life now.”
      • Against prosperity gospel: John 16:33 “… in this world, you shall have tribulation.”
      • Cf. 1 Pet. 4:12, James 1:2 (“…when”)
      • Bagama’t hindi tayo laging maghihirap at makakaranas ng pagsubok, ito’y isang bagay na “expected” na sa buhay na ito. Hindi natin ‘to maiiwasan (inevitable).

[Why do we suffer in the first place?]

  • The cause of trials and suffering
    • General suffering [as effect of the fall (e.g., sickness and corruption) or direct judgment to sin (e.g., consequence of a sinful and wrong decision)]
    • Christian suffering. Suffering as Christians [purpose to be discussed later])
    • The point is: Trials and suffering is necessary and inevitable for Christians while living here on earth.

[Continuation of the nature of our trials and suffering]

  • “.. trials of various kinds” It is varied. (different kinds and forms of trials)
    • Though there’s still little physical abuse, there are already verbal and social mistreatment and discrimination. Perhaps, even resulting in financial and social pressures. As human beings, they also experienced sickness, pain, tiredness, hunger—while under persecution.
  • “Though now for a little while.” It will be temporary
    • In light of the brevity of this passing life and the permanence of glory.
    • Romans 8:18
    • “Affliction may be lasting, but it is not everlasting.” ~ Thomas Watson

Summary of Point 1: For Christians, trials and suffering are necessary/inevitable, and it will come in various kinds and forms, but it will only be temporary and limited to this life on earth.

[TRANSITION]: “What is the purpose of these trials and suffering?” Common understanding of people: Direct judgment on a sin. God indeed judges sin (both in the OT and NT), but in his wisdom and providence, God also brings trials and adversities for good purposes.

Subpoint 2: The purpose of our trials and suffering (v. 7)

Read whole v. 7 – “so that the tested genuineness of your faith…”

James 1:2-3 – The experience of trials and suffering comes with the testing of the believers’ faith. And according to Peter, it is the testing of the genuineness of one’s faith.

  • “More precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire” (comparison between the testing of the gold and the faith)
    • 1st testing of gold: Purification in fire
      • Gold ores are washed to remove sands and melted in a melting pot (at 1000 °C). Water = 100 °C, Burning house = 600 °C
    • 2nd testing of gold (Gold grading): Confirmation of its purity
      • Ancient Egypt: Few sample of gold nuggets or powder are taken in a melting pot together with lead (tingga). Only the gold should remain (it doesn’t evaporate) and have the same weight as before it is tested.
    • Testing for purification and for confirmation.
  • Like the testing of gold, the believers’ faith is also tested for purification and confirmation.
    • Trials and suffering produces sanctification
      • Romans 5:3-4
      • Context of 1 Peter: The audience of Peter were being persecuted and tempted to go back to worldliness, but the trials were meant to test them, whether they will endure those trials and still hold on to their faith.
    • Trials and suffering demonstrates genuineness of faith
      • Job (after death in family and sores in full body) in contrast with wife: “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
      • Christ on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5): “Blessed are you when reviled and persecuted on my account.”
      • Suffering leads to James 1:3-4 (“Perfect” – Attaining the highest standard of what it is to be a Christian: That is, remaining steadfast even under pressure)
      • 1 Peter context: Their endurance in the face of trials and persecution proves that their faith in Christ is indeed true. That they are indeed Christians.
  • Peter says, it is “more precious than gold.” — Pure gold is virtually indestructible, but it can be lost, worn away by handling, decrease in value, and will end with the world in the end. Yet a proven faith will continue to increase and turn into its full glory in eternity.
  • v. 7b. “praise and glory and honor…” A genuine faith results in future rewards of praise, glory, and honor.
    • May refer to the glory and honor of Christ when he returns (i.e., our endurance will lead us to finally witness the glory of Christ)
    • May also refer to our honor and glory which God will reward us in heaven (cf. Paul: “I fought the good fight… finished the race… kept the faith. Hence there’s a crown… a reward.”)
    • 1 Peter context: Their present trials, after they endure it, lead to future glory. 

Summary of Point 2: For Christians, trials and suffering are for sanctification and maturity, leading to assurance of salvation and future glory. And as Paul said in Romans 8:18, the present trials are nothing to be compared to that future glory.

Implication and Application

  • [TRANSITION]: Now friends, like the believers in Peter’s time, we will also experience various trials (not necessarily persecution, but other kinds and forms of trials)
  • EXAMPLE: Loss of job
    • Could be because of laziness
    • Could be discrimination/persecution
    • Could be just part of God’s providence
  • EXAMPLE: Sickness
    • Could be because of wrong diet or poor stewardship or abuse of our bodies
    • Could be due to food poisoning or wrong medication
    • Could be just part of our natural physical corruption
  • Whatever the reason (I don’t know exactly), all trials and suffering are for our good
    • We may not know exactly why God brings trials in our lives. One thing is clear—it is for our salvation (conversion, sanctification). For unbelievers and hypocrites, let the adversities of life lead you to Christ (cf. Psalm 90:9-12). 
      • Realize the consequences of your sins, the reality of life, the fallenness of this world, and your utter need of Christ for salvation. “Make the right use of your trials.” ~ Puritan
      • No promise that your problems will all disappear through faith, but that God will be with you and carry you through until the end.
    • For believers, different purposes behind our trials (prevention for or correction for sin, renewal of distracted mind so we meditate on reality). Whatever the reason is (I don’t know exactly), it is ultimately for our sanctification.
    • Four (4) areas we are being sanctified during trials:
      • Humility (against self-reliance, brings us to the end of ourselves. We rely on God, not only in salvation, but in all of life)
      • Patience and contentment (against self-entitlement)
      • Trust (testing of our theology, one thing to know God’s providence, another thing to embrace it)(HC LD 9, Q. 26)
      • Obedience and satisfaction in God (testing of our commitment to love God and others)
        • Will you still love your spouse or honor your parents when your meal is always just egg and pancit canton?
        • Will you still commit to the church and serve others in any way even on a tight budget?
        • It’s easy to follow God and love others when it is convenient and comfortable. But take it away?
    • COMFORT: Trials and suffering leads to maturity (Hebrews 12:10-11).
      • Not mere “punishment” but to assist the development of the person. While Satan tempts us for our failure, God disciplines and tests his people for maturity and victory.

        And every trial makes us more mature for future trials.
      • ILLUSTRATION: Forming a metal chisel, with all the heat of coals and the pressure of the striking hammer [maso]
      • Every heat, every strike, every pressure is given to form the chisel. Likewise, every trial and pain and suffering is given to teach us, break us, and form us to be more and more like Christ.
  • APPLY: What should we do when we are faced with various trials?
  1. Pray for the right heart (deliverance, strength, but most of all—the right and mature heart)
  2. Discern what God must be teaching you (meditate, seek counsel, etc.)
  3. Be patient and look to Christ (it is only temporary. More than the people who sympathize with us on Facebook, Christ sympathizes with us) (Hebrews 4:15-16)
  4. Be hopeful and thankful (look deeper and further beyond the suffering, see the end purpose, see God’s good work in you through it) 

Vv. 8-9. “Though you have not seen him…”

“filled with glory” — Full of heaven, the daily experience of salvation within. That’s the description of a true believer in Christ while under trials.

“Rejoicing while grieved by trials.” (Contrary words, oxymoron). “Inexpressible joy”… It’s hard to comprehend, but only true believers know and experience that joy deep within even in the face of pain and pressure.

  • Example: Peace of mind and love for one another during COVID
  • Example: Seeing someone experience deep joy despite trials. Mama Jean

How is that possible? That’s the work of the Spirit within us believers (hope, joy, comfort), which is most valuable of all—that no gold, silver, or money can buy (cf. “It is Well with My Soul”). And for that, we are thankful.

CONCLUSION

Brothers and sisters in Christ—trials and suffering are inevitable in our lives as exiles in this world. But these trials are only temporary and God brings them upon our lives for the ultimate purpose of sanctifying us and confirming our faith—leading to our sure salvation and future glory.

May that comfort and encourage us to mortify our sins and remain faithful to God until the end.

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Reuel Dawal is the Minister of the Word and Sacraments at ZCRC. He was an intern prior to being ordained and installed as the church's new pastor. He is currently finishing his Biblical and Theological Studies at the Miami International Seminary (MINTS) online. He and his wife Yeng are married since 2017 and lives in Imus, Cavite.

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