Sunday, March 8, 2009

MBC-03/08/09 Sermon on 1Pe 1:6-7

This post is a summary of the most recent sermon preached at Morningside Baptist Church (MBC) by Pastor Dave Sowers. The audio of the sermon can be found at the "Sermon Audio Podcast" link of the website Pastor Sowers pictured to the left. As much as is possible it is hoped that these notes honor both the intent and the content of Pastor Sowers' original message. Please compare to the sermon audio podcast. [Original Title was appearing with incorrect date, post edited on 3/10/09 to clear up grammar at one point and separate verse references at another.]

First Peter 1:6-7

In any week we have sometimes minor and sometimes major trials. Such difficulties in living that cause us anxiety and distress. Sometimes the nature of this trial may cause us to ask: "What is God up to?" or to say, "I don't see how this difficulty can work for good." Today's text addresses these questions and brings us needed encouragement and counsel in the midst of trial.

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 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:

First let us learn from this passage: God knows our trials are distressing.

ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations" or NASB: distressed or the ESV: grieved.

Consider the account of our Lord the night he was betrayed in the garden, where the scriptures tell us he was deeply grieved or exceedingly sorrowful.

Mat 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Now in 1Pe 1:6 there is not a rebuke to the distress and heaviness that comes from trials. God knows trials are hard to bear.

Psa 103:4 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

God knows we are weak --- we are but dust.

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus Knows.

Second: God knows that trials are necessary. 1Pet 1.6
"if need be", "if necessary"

There will be trials if they are needed. God knows when this is the case. Trials are not random, not subject to luck or chance, not the devil who decides, they are designed by God.

1 Peter 3:17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.

1 Peter 4:19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

Both of the above verses make clear, that trials come, suffering comes, "If the will of God be so" or "according to the will of God."

Suffering is not something outside of God's will but part of God's will for us. Something that is necessary.

Consider the experience of missionaries to India, David and Helen Seaman. Their baby son, Steve was born in India with a club foot. It was over one month before they were able to travel the 500 miles necessary to reach a hospital where proper treatment could be given. Because of the month long delay in treatment it was required that the parents for several years would provide therapy to their little baby in order to restore the club foot. Every day the babies father, David, would place the foot over a bottle and turn it the opposite way from the twist. The process was extremely painful for the toddler and heart wrenching for the parent. The child sometimes would cry out "I hate you Daddy." He was just too young to understand how this painful treatment was necessary to restore him to full health. Too young to know what good would the future held for him if the painful excruciating treatment is faithfully continued. Too young to know what happiness he would forfeit in the long term if he forsook this present trial.

In a similar way we don't understand the purpose of God's trials for us.

Thirdly: God knows our trials are temporary.
1Pe 1.6 "though now for a season, " or "though now for a little while".

Think of the end to which we wait described for us in Revelation 22 and following. In heaven there is no more pain, death, trials.

The world has a saying, "this too shall pass." The world knows this, how much more shouldn't we know this who wait for eternity.

2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Jas 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

God knows that trials are beneficial.

1 Peter 1:7 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:

The proof of your faith...the trial of your faith is precious. God knows the great benefit - though we like that little baby of David and Helen Seaman, do not know the benefits and purposes of our trial, we have such a word here, the trail of our faith is much more precious than gold.

1) Trials Can demonstrate to us the authenticity of our faith.

How can we know that we do not merely believe in God as do the demons, not having true saving faith?
Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

How do I know my faith is a living faith?

How do I know the genuineness of my faith and that I'm not with those that fall away as described in the sower and the seed and not truly having the grace of faith?

Luke 8:5-15
Luke 8:5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
The outworking of the trials we endure work to prove that our faith is genuine.

2) Trials also demonstrate that God is greater than we ever imagined. God who in our trials is near, and a very present help in time of need is greater in our eyes having gone through trial than we ever would have had without that trial.

A brother recently commented in an email: "We would now have a smaller view of God without that trial."

3) Also the purifying work of trials:

Isa 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

Job 23:10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.

2Co 1:8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.

From the trials we receive a purer faith. A refined faith.

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

Why do we rejoice?

This is the proper reaction of all that is true in 1Peter 1:1-5.

1PE 1:1-5
1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 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. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

How can we not rejoice, and see how much grounds of rejoicing belongs to us:

Loved by God.
Washed Clean.
Born Again.
Were dead but God caused new Life.
Having an imperishable inheritance.
God keeping me to the last day.

What this rejoicing is not.
We are not called to live in denial. Think of the hymns:

At the cross, at the cross Where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!

Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.

The hymn can lead one to think, we are never to have a place for heaviness, for distress, for deep grieving. After all we must be happy all the day. But this rejoicing is not a denial of current hard ship.

Don't pretend, don't look to your power of positive thinking to wish the trial away.

Don't deny the trial you might be walking through. For such a denial would also be a denial of the great blessing God intends.

The scriptures show that we can be both sorrowful and always rejoicing.

2Co 6:10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

See the apostles who were both sorrowful and yet rejoicing:
ACTS 16:22-25
Act 16:22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. Act 16:23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Act 16:24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. Act 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
Paul was really hurting and in pain, truly sorrowful. Yet there they were also in the midst of that singing

Here the prophet was waiting for the invasion. Sorrowful - still in verse 18 the words "yet I will rejoice in the Lord" We are waiting perhaps for a coming persecution, or a coming economic collapse there is sorrow as we wait - and yet rejoicing knowing that God intends it for his own purposes. Knowing he rules the universe according to the highest reason.

Habakkuk 3:16-18 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. 17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Matthew Henry on Hab 3:18
"But those who, when they were full, enjoyed God in all, when they are emptied and impoverished can enjoy all in God, and can sit down upon a melancholy heap of the ruins of all their creature comforts and even then can sing to the praise and glory of God, as the God of their salvation. This is the principal ground of our joy in God, that he is the God of our salvation, our eternal salvation, the salvation of the soul; and, if he be so, we may rejoice in him as such in our greatest distresses, since by them our salvation cannot be hindered, but may be furthered. Note, Joy in God is never out of season, nay, it is in a special manner seasonable when we meet with losses and crosses in the world, that it may then appear that our hearts are not set upon these things, nor our happiness bound up in them. "

DO YOU WANT MORE JOY LIKE THAT - Even in time of trial?

1) only by God's enabling grace and not by trying harder.

2) 2Cor 4:16-18 is a clue from one who lived this sorrowing yet rejoicing.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

We should be looking at things not seen -- eternal things.

Look: fix your eyes upon, gaze intently at, concentrate and focus upon.

This is the fight of faith: What will I focus on in this trial? God or the problem.

This fight of faith reminds me of trying to capture the beauty and grandeur of the mountains with my camera. There are the mountains and their are some people in the foreground. If I focus my camera on the people, center my picture and fill the lens with the people they become the object of the picture and the whole expansive beauty of the mountains behind is lost for the object in the foreground. But if I forget the people in the foreground and let the lens fill up with as much of the beautiful mountain range as possible I come closer much closer to capturing the grandeur and the greatness. So it is in the fight of faith. If we focus the lens of our perspective on the trial - the problem - the immediate we will lose sight of God. We will lose sight of heaven to come, it is a fight of faith to focus on things not seen - things eternal.

Rom 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

J.C. Ryle: [from Old Paths]
"There we shall find all that we hope for and find that it was a million times better than all our hope."

GLORY TO GOD, By His Grace and For His Glory
[This post composed from notes taken during the preaching of this same sermon by Pastor Dave Sowers.]

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