Being Tested by Fire

1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV

“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.”

Contrasting the Church with the Church

This is speaking to Christians, to those of genuine faith in Jesus Christ, to those of us who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and who have been raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him. We are strangers on this earth because we have been called out of the world’s system, and we have been called of God to be his holy people, separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ. We are called of God to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to live holy lives.

As the called of God, we are also called to share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Jesus said that if we follow him with our lives, that if we are his disciples, that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted. Especially if we are teaching what Jesus and his New Testament Apostles taught, and if we are rebuking the lies in contrast to the truth, as they did, we are going to be opposed strongly by those who are opposed to what we are doing.

And who were Jesus’ greatest persecutors and enemies? Yes, they were the Jews, but what else do they stand for? They stand for the religious hypocrites who are leaders and rulers and teachers of the Word in the temple of God. And where is the temple of God situated today? We who believe in Jesus Christ are that temple, and Jesus is that temple, and we are his body for he dwells within us in the person of the Holy Spirit. So the temple of God today is the body of Christ, his church, his people.

But the church is also the gathering together of God’s people, it is the assembly of God’s people together. So we collectively are the church – those of us who are following Jesus Christ with our lives in humble obedience to him and to his ways. But the church has also come to mean institutions of men incorporated under the state (the government) and under the headship of church denominations and their leadership which are being marketed to the world and thus are being patterned after the world to attract the world.

And thus their gatherings are often patterned after what the world likes and after what will draw in large crowds of people from the world, and so they cease to be the true church, although I am certain that true believers in Jesus Christ are among them. For the true church is supposed to be about the saving of people out of slavery to sin and to walks of obedience to the Lord. Their gatherings should be about people sharing with one another what Jesus is teaching them in their times with him in his word.

The true church is to be about having Jesus as her head, and the Holy Spirit guiding her into all truth, not having the state or church denominations (under the state) as their head, and not having books written by mere mortals (not under divine inspiration) and marketing books written by men guiding them into truth and into what they should be doing in their gatherings. For many of these people advising them are not of the mind of God, but they are of the mind of the flesh of man, leading to what is flesh.

The Tested Genuiness of Your Faith

Here I believe I am to share something from my own personal experiences, and although you may not have had the same experiences, you might be able to identify with this in some way. For we all have griefs in all kinds of trials, even the unsaved do. But these are specific to followers of Jesus Christ who are being mistreated because they are walking in obedience to the Lord’s commands, and not because they are doing anything wrong. And probably most or all of these are related to church abuse.

But let me preface it with this. As followers of Jesus, God has a general calling on all of our lives which we can learn about in the Scriptures. Then he has a specific calling on our individual lives which is talked about in the Scriptures in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4, and in other passages. These are our specific assignments within the body of Christ in the roles where God wants us to function, and we aren’t all the same. And these assignments also require specific giftings of the Spirit of God.

But because these callings are of the Spirit of God, and although biblical, they may not coincide with the specific areas of ministry within localized gatherings of the church or the institutional market-driven church. And this isn’t just about ministry positions, but your calling may not coincide with the marketing goals and objectives of a particular institutional church or with their philosophy on how to do church or with what they have adopted as the true gospel of salvation. And so you may be mistreated and cast aside.

For example, early on in my life I knew my calling was like that of Jeremiah, but not to be a prophet of God, but to be just a godly woman listening to the Lord sharing what the Lord gives me to share. But I knew that what the Lord was going to have me sharing was not going to be popular and accepted by the majority. I knew I was going to be opposed and mistreated and that people in authority were going to fight against me, but that the Lord would rescue me, so I was not to fear them or what they might do to me.

But I didn’t really get the “Do not be terrified by them” part, and so God did indeed “terrify me before them.” He allowed me to go through persecution after persecution until I finally learned that I have to not fear them. I can’t let them intimidate me. Now I am not saying it is okay to be rebellious or to be willfully disobedient or dismissive of authority or to be unsubmissive to those in authority, unless they are asking you to do what is wrong and what is against the Scriptures. Then you can tell them “No!” I surely did.

Yet, there were times in my life when I literally cried out to God and asked him why he made me like this, i.e. why he gave me this calling only to be rejected and mistreated by the church overall. And there were times when I retreated in fear and I abandoned the call of God on my life, only for God to put me right back in the fire. But when the Lord called me to this present calling (which is really the same calling, just in a different setting), I shut that door to my former life permanently, and I have stayed the course.

No matter what is thrown at me, no matter what people say about me, no matter what false accusations might come against me or people warring against me because of what I am sharing from the truth of the Scriptures, I am determined to stay the course if it means my death, and it may. And I will not give in to compromise or to sin, but I will fight against evil, and I will oppose evil and teach the truth of the gospel, that we must die with Christ to sin and walk in obedience to his commands or we don’t have eternal life.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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