“so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” (1 Peter 1:7, NASB95)
We may not know why any particular trial comes our way. We may not know why this person dies of cancer and another does not. We may not know why one loses a job and another doesn’t. There is so much that we don’t know and may not come to know. But what we do know is that God is not evil and He does not promote evil. We also know that He is sovereign and in total control with His strong hand on every single one of us. And, we know that for this season we live in fallen bodies in a fallen world where Satan and his cohorts are allowed by God to reign. But even in this we know that God even holds the reigns over the evil one and those who belong to him. These are some hard things to reconcile, and we may not really be able to fully do so other than to recognize the greater truth that God created everything very good, and that man and Satan rebelled bringing in death and destruction. God reached into this death and destruction with His perfect plan to send His only Son to give Himself as a living sacrifice for our sins and to restore us to life in Him. We know that for a season sin is prevalent and that it will get worse before His Son comes again. But one day God will put an end to it all. Sin will be abolished. The devil and his cohorts will be cast away forever along with all who have rejected God and His salvation, and those whose names are found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will live eternally in His presence.
Sure, the Bible gives us more detail than this, and there is much more we can learn about the nature of evil and the character of our God as we study His Word. But the big picture reality is pretty simple. God is perfect and He demands perfection. We are not perfect and are incapable of perfection. Only in His Son are we made perfectly righteous because He personally credits His righteousness to us at the moment of our salvation and the Spirit cooperates with us as we grow in righteousness until such time that we step into His perfect presence, perfectly perfected in all ways for all of eternity.
And, what is the proof that keeps us going? It is that God’s Spirit is indeed working in us through faith to make us more and more like Christ every day. The proof that we belong to God is the work of God in us. We change because we have been changed. We grow because we have been made alive. This is what a plant does. The seed is germinated and then it grows. The big difference is that unlike the flower that fades, we are made to never fade.
The picture we have here is of the refining process. Robin and I have been married over thirty-six years. We gave each other rings on the day we were married. My wedding ring was lost in the Northridge earthquake, and several years later we replaced it. But as I look at even the replacement gold ring on my finger right now, it still shines. It is recognizable as gold, unlike many pennies or dimes that I’ve seen that have become so tarnished that I had difficulty distinguishing between the two and their subsequent worth. My wedding ring was made of refined gold and it has a level of purity to it that allows it to keep its value and recognized status. At one point in time raw gold and other minerals were removed from the ground and the gold was separated from them. It was further heated to remove additional impurities, and then when it was made to the right degree of purity it was put through the process of turning it into a marker on my finger of a covenant made year ago.
God’s work in our lives is that marker on our lives that reminds us of the certainty of the promise made to us, and unlike my first ring God’s promise will never be lost or forgotten. It is not up to me to keep it on my finger at all times. It is up to Him. In Christ I have been sealed and made inseparable. But at the same time, God does expect me to live according to who I am. Wearing a wedding ring is not all there is to being married, and being sealed in Christ is not all there is to being a Christian. We are called to live lives by faith, seeking after God, growing in our knowledge of His Word as we hide it in our lives, and living in obedience to what we learn and according to how we are led in response to those truths. The incredible thing is that this is not an effort we do on our own, but it is one that His Spirit enables us to do and it is through that very enablement that God proves just how saved we are.
We were told in verse 6 to rejoice knowing distress. Here we are told that the entirety of our lives is proof of His love and faithfulness ant that it is to result even greater praise and glory when we see our Lord. I love the ending verses of chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians where we read, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:12–13, NASB95)
For the time being we get the opportunity to taste and see just how good our God is, but we still have to trust because we have not yet reached the end and seen in full. Now we have to hope having promises shown to us through our lives, but the fullness of those promises is yet to be disclosed. And now we get to know the love of God poured out on us amidst the sorrow of the world, but one day we will get to know the fullness of God’s love with great rejoicing and praise as the glory of God is revealed face to face. We read that now abide faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. Think of it, when we are there, there will be no more reason to trust because faith will be proven in His presence. When we are there, there will be no more reason to hope because we will see hope fully realized. And, what we know of love now, imagine how much more we will realize the extent of His love and that of His Son—our Lord Jesus Christ when we meet them once and fully forever.
This promise is truly more precious than gold. Gold may buy us a lot now, but Jesus bought us eternity and He is working in us right now proving just how real His purchase really is.