In looking at the dynamic of faith, it is probable that the saints of God will be tested by fire. It is a way of refining, purifying, and purging the saints. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” I Peter 1:6-7
All of us who are in Christ Jesus will be grieved by various trials. It is the genuineness of one’s faith that is more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire. Faithful, the companion of Christian on their way to the Celestial City suffered persecution in the City of Vanity Fair. Condemned by Judge Hategood, he was taken to the center of the city and was burned at the stake for his allegiance to Christ. (John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress)
Persecution is only one of the various trials that the saints have endured. Trials of loss, pain, heartache, broken relationships, fear, rejection, etc. can plague the saint. Whether or not the saint will be able to bear under the trial is directly proportional to the genuineness of one’s faith. Genuineness suggests authenticity, efficacy, and validity. There is a faith that does not measure up to genuineness. A decision for Christ may have been genuine in the beginning but has failed to be faithful to the calling. Willful disobedience, double-mindedness, infidelity, spiritual adultery and the forsaking of the assembly of the local church will strip the authenticity of one’s witness. The faith once professed has drifted into worldliness. Faith which was once single-minded is now Mr. Facing Both Ways. When various trials come upon him and he is tested by fire, he will succumb to the fire rather than enduring it. His heart will fail him.
But, not so of those who have kept the faith. Their faith is genuine and they will be able to withstand the fiery trial. “Whom have I in heaven but You? And, there is none upon the earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25-26 The faithful will be able to go through the fire, for God is the strength of their heart.
Consider Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego who were cast into a burning fiery furnace. “The King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke saying to his counselors; ‘Did we not cast three men bound in the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the King; ‘True, O King.’ ‘Look’ he answsered, ‘I see four men in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt and the fourth is like the Son of God.’” Daniel 3:12-25
It is the genuineness of our faith that girds us for any tribulation. The tribulation may have come from a past experience and it is still on-going. It may be fire that is burning, so intense that you cry that you can’t take it any longer.
This excerpt from a children’s story by George McDonald may help:
She (a young, unkempt girl named Tangle who was looking for a Golden Key in FairyLand) was led by the Old Man of the Earth to a cave. The Old Man asked her to lay her ear against the wall of the cave. Tangle lay her ear against the wall of the cave. She heard the sound of a great running water inside the rock. The river was the only way to The Oldest Man of the Fire for whom Tangle was searching. The Old Man of the Earth stooped over the cave and raised a huge stone from it. It disclosed a great hole that went plumb down. It was the only way and it had no stairs. The Old Man of the Earth said to Tangle; “You must throw yourself in. There is no other way.” Tangle threw herself into the hole. She found herself gliding down fast and deep under water. When she lifted her head up a sudden fierce heat struck her, and she sank again and went sweeping on. When the subsiding water could carry her no farther she rose from the channel and went step for step down the burning descent. The heat was terrible. She felt scorched at the bone. It did not touch her strength. It grew hotter and hotter. She said; “I can bear it no longer”, yet she went on. At last she ended up in a cool mossy cave. from The Golden Key
There are many saints who are being tested by fire. They can relate to “I can bear it no longer”. But, even in their weakness, they move on, trusting God through it all. They are participating in the suffering of Christ. “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13
May God bless us with the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus to face whatever comes upon us. The Son of Man will be with us in the fiery furnace just as He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.