Faithlife Sermons

The Joy of Proven Faith

1 Peter: A Living Hope for Holy Living in a Hostile World  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:19
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We can have true joy in suffering (like Christ) when we understand trials as God proving and purifying our faith for His glory.

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The Joy of Proven Faith - 1 Peter 1:6-9

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1 Peter 1:3–9 ESV
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, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 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. 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, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Opening Prayer
Intro: When I shop, I’m looking for the best deal on the highest quality item I can fit in my budget. Sellers sometimes promote their products with money back guarantees (on some item guaranteed to last… guaranteed to withstand so many pounds of pressure, etc.) You might get your money back, but you can’t get your time back. Faith in the wrong thing in this life results in not only a lot of potential heartache even now, but you can’t get your life back, and you can’t get your eternity back after the day of judgment.
Peter has been describing how your faith in Jesus Christ gives you great hope because of the certainty of your final inheritance, and now also the benefit of having that faith tested by trials.

Temporary Trials (v. 6)

Now for a little while… - We can endure a lot of things when we know they are for a limited time.
Saving Faith Allows Us to Rejoice Even in Trials
In this you rejoice…
Rejoicing in the assurance of our protected inheritance (that was last week - see esp. v. 5)
Rejoicing in the proving of our faith (what follows)
Suffering is temporary. Salvation is eternal.
You may not be particularly excited about how much work it is to painstakingly build your own dining room table. But you sure do stand back with pleasure in the end to appreciate the result. You may not particularly enjoy discipling your children to help them see their need to submit to God’s authority because of his perfect character, so that they’ll recognize their sin nature and embrace the grace of God to them in Jesus Christ. That’s not pleasurable at the time! But if you can stay focused on the fact that you’re doing all you can to give them every opportunity to respond to Christ, now that brings comfort and joy.
3 John 3–4 ESV
For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
Are you shortsighted when it comes to delaying gratification for a greater goal?
My young friend entering adulthood who worked for FIVE years to buy the car he now has! FIVE YEARS!
What needs to change in your mindset and habits to help you keep your focus on God as the end goal?
Saving Faith Sees God’s Sovereignty in Suffering
Grieved by necessary trials
Necessary means that we recognize that this is happening within the sovereign will of God. It’s not chance, it’s not accident. (And I’ll remind you in a minute that it’s not meaningless.)
There is nothing random or unplanned about the circumstances you are in right now, even if those circumstances seem very hard. Rather, God is leading you by the way he deems most appropriate, the way he has determined is most fitting for your spiritual growth. You may think you would thrive more through a life of better health, greater ease, or increased luxury, but God knows what is best and God makes no mistakes. - Tim Challies
Peter’s not sugar-coating. - These trials grieve us. - Simultaneous grief and joy in the Christian life - We will and do experience very real grief from our own suffering and out of love for those near us who are hurting. And yet, we have an underlying and foundational joy because God has given us an ongoing hope that looks toward the completion of our salvation because of what Christ has accomplished, and here too now that we are assured of the character of God in his sovereign purposes that his design for suffering is to purify us. Through faith we know that suffering is not without purpose. Thus, we have joy.
Do you think your suffering is made better or worse for you if you fail to recognize God’s sovereignty in your suffering?

Genuine Faith (v. 7)

I’m super picky about how I sleep. I hate sleeping in hammocks, but alas, on a hunting trip in the Amazon jungle I have no choice but to try and sleep in a hammock. So once I was looking for the most comfortable hammock I could take on a hunting trip, and mom graciously let me borrow one of hers. Soft cotton hammock… also cotton strings. These weren’t her exact words, but something like “It’s old but it’ll hold.” … That turned out to not be the case. During the night, when that hammock was tested, those little strings proved to NOT be reliable. I was dumped out on the dirt.
Unlike simply a hammock, Peter’s illustration also shows that testing of something like gold (and faith) only makes it all the more pure and proves its genuineness.
Genuine Faith Is Purified by Testing
Two parts of this comparison with gold:
Faith is more precious than gold. (Gold won’t last eternally. Gold perishes. Faith is imperishable bc God’s promise regarding our faith is that it is grounded/tied into something outside the realm of perishable things—to his own nature.
Costly and precious (valuable) faith - Purchasing your salvation was costly to God. Saving faith is an amazing free gift of God’s grace, but it is still costly to us in this life: forsake everything and follow me. Forsake your will and your worth - believe in my worth and obey my will… but it’s more than worth the cost, more than precious/valuable enough to be worth the cost.
The purpose of trials is to refine faith.
Are you humble enough to allow trials to purify your faith/obedience to Christ? Do you sincerely ask, Lord in what ways are you showing me my disobedience? In what ways are you showing me my lack of wisdom and discernment in making decisions?
Suffering is like fertilizer for spiritual growth… if you keep your focus on God’s will for you.
Proven & Purified Faith Results in Glory
Proven & purified - that which is tested and demonstrated as genuine.
Whose glory are we talking about? All the glory and honor and praise for what God accomplishes by our faith ultimately redounds back to him, but in this context it sure does seem Peter is here speaking of the reward that we receive as the end goal of our faith. - Here are some other verses from scripture of a similar flavor:
1 Corinthians 4:5 ESV
Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
Matt 25:21 (23 is the same)
Matthew 25:21 ESV
His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
Rom 2:7,10
Romans 2:7 ESV
to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life;
Romans 2:10 ESV
but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.
2 Timothy 4:8 ESV
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
At the revelation Jesus Christ - Christ’s return and the day of judgment. That means that some things we suffer we won’t fully comprehend at all in this life…
The ultimate end is still this: God is magnificently glorified and deserves all praise when he purifies his people through trial and preserves them to the end.

Faith’s Object (v. 8)

Genuine Saving Faith Is Exclusively in Jesus Christ
From the end of v. 7 into verse 8 there’s an incredibly important presupposition, and that is that genuine faith comes only through the person of Jesus Christ. - From the mouth of Peter himself:
Acts 4:12 ESV
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
… though you have not seen him - this is the meaning of faith:
Hebrews 11:1 ESV
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
John 20:29 ESV
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Saving faith comes only in Christ. And through Christ, your faith and hope are in God! (cf. vv. 20-21) - Remember, remember... your faith is not in God altering your circumstances… your faith and hope are in God (through Jesus Christ)… and his sustaining grace and strength in the midst of your circumstances.
Proven & Purified Faith Increases Love, Trust, and Joy in Christ
And they give evidence of a genuine and precious faith - love, trust, and joy in Christ
Suffering makes faith better. Suffering (with the eyes of faith fixed on Jesus) increases our dependency on Christ... & our appreciation for salvation and what Christ went through for us. Suffering improves our knowledge of God and dramatically stimulates our growth in Christlikeness.

Faith’s Outcome (v. 9)

Genuine Faith Will Result in Completed Salvation
Faith that can’t be tested can’t be saving faith. But faith tested and proven and purified under suffering gives us all the more assurance of our guaranteed inheritance and gives us all the more love, trust, and joy in Christ in this life.
Peter knows we need some other focus for comfort and courage in this life:
Hey believer in Jesus, KNOW this: While your journey to Heaven leaves you feeling like a foreigner on this earth, God the Father sovereignly and intimately KNEW you long before you were born. He CHOSE you before the foundation of the world to be set apart for His purposes. He gave you His own Spirit to lead you in obedience to His Son...the Savior of the world. Take comfort! Although you may feel out of place, He is with you as you travel home. - Mike Schlote (on FB, May 20)
So too Peter continues helping us keep our lives in perspective of eternity in the sovereign hands of God.
Conclusion: We can have true joy in suffering (like Christ) when we understand trials as God proving and purifying our faith for His glory.
The more your faith is tested and you keep your eyes on Jesus, God proves himself reliable and sustaining through the storm, and the more confirmed and confident and unpolluted your faith becomes.
The question becomes, how do we keep our focus so that the benefit Peter is talking about becomes a reality in our lives? … that kind of assurance, hope, and joy of our genuine faith… - Peter is telling us: regularly get your mind off of yourself and back on God, rehearse the gospel to your heart over and over. It will never grow stale. - But that’s just part of it. Peter will essentially also tell us that we must prepare our minds for action (not only to do what I just said, v. 13), but also to pursue holiness (vv. 14ff). Pursuing holiness (God’s will for us as his children) has the added benefit of increasing our faith, our assurance of the genuineness of our faith. As does unity of love with fellow believers (vv. 22ff.). Anyway, we’ll have lots of time in the months ahead to work through those passages together. For now, take note that keeping an eternal perspective of the grace of God to you in Christ Jesus (which you do in daily devoting your heart to God in prayer), and seeking God’s will in his word and aiming to obey him… Those two things lead us to be close to God and to be like God, resulting greater and greater confirmation of our genuine faith.
Further Discussion:
Are you shortsighted when it comes to delaying gratification for a greater goal? What needs to change in your mindset and habits to help you keep your focus on God as the end goal?
Do you really understand the cost of saving faith in Christ? (read Matt. 16:24) What other scriptures do you know that express this cost? But on the other side, what is its value? (Matt. 16:25-26)
Do you think your suffering is made better or worse for you if you fail to recognize God’s sovereignty in your suffering? Why?
Can you give any examples from your own life of suffering resulting in greater purity, in growth in Christlikeness?
“How can a loving God let this happen?” How do you respond to your own heart or to someone else when questioning God’s love because of suffering?
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