Pastor Dan Eddy
1 Peter 1:3-9
Why am I being tested if Jesus loves me so much?
I. Introduction – Testing, Testing
A few Sundays
back, tornado sirens wert off while Sunday night services were being held at
Mike and Lisa Hamlin along with their sons, ages five and seven, were attending services that night. They went home to find their house completely destroyed.
Sometimes I think we think because we have faith in God and are active at church and in worship that we will never have to face tests to our faith. That believing in the name Jesus Christ we are somehow free from the burdens of life.
However, all of our lives in Christ bear something different.
This morning I want you to think of the biggest burden or burdens you are facing right now in your life…health problems…marital strife…income challenges…family conflicts…and I want you to ask yourself… “If God in Christ Jesus really loves me and has given me faith in Him, why am I being tested?”
Now I am not going to be trite and say “What ever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.” OR “So you can have a stronger faith in God.” Please, you’ve heard those answers before, and while they do have merit, they can also seem, at times, a bit shallow and fall short of an answer that helps you through your problems today.
You’re not looking for an intellectual answer as much as searching for meaning as to why certain things are happening to you at this time.
And you’re not alone in your testing. All of this morning’s Scripture passages have a common theme of testing, that is, the testing of our faith in Christ.
So, why does the Lord test our faith in Him if He loves us so much?
II. Reason #1: We are sinners subject to falling away from the faith
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We are tested because we are sinners and are subject to falling away from the faith.
Look at our Gospel reading for this morning. Let’s admit at times we can be doubting Thomases. We haven’t seen our Lord and Savior in the flesh. And because we haven’t seen Him in the flesh with our own eyes we can tend to rationalize His Scripture as made up by men with agendas, and, as a result, take a critical view of Bible passages that we simply don’t agree with.
Everyday we are being tempted to forget our baptism, where we were saved. But once saved doesn’t always mean we will always be saved. The potential exists for us to fall away. God does not let that easily happen. He will put up a fight, while not treating us as our sins as we deserve (Psalm 103), but will wake us out of our un-repentance.
Hebrews 12: 6 (ESV): “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son (or daughter) whom he receives.”
Our Lord is like the coach yelling at you because he sees the potential you have. He’s like the parent who won’t grant his child anything they want and will actually take things and privileges away to wake them out of their defiance.
And the events surrounding the reawakening may have nothing to do with our sins. A destroyed home from a tornado may have nothing to do with an alcohol, gambling or porn addiction, but it will get us to focus on what’s important and good and virtuous.
When Mike thought about the tornado he said: "I thought the Lord might take our whole family right there at church; the winds were so strong. But there wasn't a better place to be and we were all together."
My guess is that Mark and Lisa hugged their children a bit tighter that Sunday night as they laid them to down to sleep wherever they found shelter after their home was completely destroyed. Sometimes we don’t appreciate all we have until it has the potential to be taken away or is taken away.
And I bet Mark and Lisa took an assessment of their lives and realized that even though they are God’s children there are many areas in their lives where they don’t follow their Heavenly Father.
We all can’t be reminded enough of what our Lord and Savior did for you and me with His suffering and death on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead, and the ticket of faith He gave you at your baptism. Faith is the ticket out of Hell that gets you into Heaven. And Christ is telling you to keep holding onto it so as He redeemed your sins, you can redeem your faith ticket at the End for the everlasting life with Him.
So because the Lord has done all that…look at verses 6 and 7: “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.”
Have you all ever heard of drossing? It is the process of getting imperfections (cheaper metals) out of precious metals to make them pure. Drossing involves heating metal to extreme temperatures...ouch, and so God will use testing "to dross" out sin in our life in Christ.
It has been said that the goldsmiths in Peter’s day kept heating the metal in the furnace until they could see their face reflected in it. So our Lord keeps us in the furnace of suffering until we reflect the glory and beauty of Jesus Christ. The more sins are eliminated from our lives, the more Jesus is uncovered and revealed for us to see. The more that happens the more vividly He is seen, even though we have not seen Him in the flesh.
Just as the goldsmith tests the gold to see if it is pure or counterfeit, so the trials of life test our faith to prove its sincerity. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted! Too many, so called, professing Christians have a “false faith” and this will be revealed in the trials of life. The person who abandons their “faith” when the going gets tough is only showing that he or she really had no faith at all, or gave it up a long time ago.
God’s drossing keeps what His Son did on Good Friday and Easter Sunday from becoming a clitche…words we hear over and over that have little to no meaning.
Look at the Disciples. What happened in the weeks between these two texts was Jesus took some whiny, weak, and indecisive Apostles in our John 20 text and turned them into the bold, unapologetic witnesses of Christ in our First Reading from Acts 5.
How did this happen? They kept feeding on the Word of God. They kept in fellowship with Christ and that not only strengthens their faith, but deepened their love. They weren’t alone in their testing. Its amazing how when bad things happen we can spend much more time studying God’s Word and are on our knees in prayer. The more Satan is tempting us, the more we meditate on Jesus. And moments of relief come when His Word is literally being fed to you with Christ’s real body and true blood. It is the ongoing drossing process that happens in your lives…to change your lives like Christ did to the Apostles. It’s not always pleasant, but it keeps you in the faith.
And don’t forget the reason why this is all happening: Verse 8: “obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” Or as the Apostle Paul said in Romans 8:18 ESV: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Your inheritance is in Heaven and is of Heaven and as verse 4 says “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” It’s like I said to the kids last week. You’ve been given Heaven. It is in your heart so live it like you are already there. That’s why our continual rejoicing happens, even when facing tests.
You are precious in Jesus' eyes, so He is working in you and me and all believers to get those imperfections out…so your beauty shines even more than pure gold. (Point to the gold cross around the neck)
With Christ Jesus’ loving drossing: You’re being encouraged to face the ugliness of this world and your sins in order for you to see the beauty of your faith, and for others to see it as well. You are being filled with God’s glory to show it to others.
And that bring us to the second and final reason in this text as to why our faith is being tested by Christ who loves us so much.
IV. Reason #2: Testing teaches us how to show our faith in Christ to a hostile world
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Testing teaches us how to show our faith in Christ to a hostile world
Now why would people be hostile to having their sins forgiven, and being given eternal life? A lot of it is a power struggle with God. Look at the hard heartedness of the people in Acts 5. The whole commotion started with the Disciples healing people and then giving the credit to Christ Jesus.
We have many good things that happen in the world that unbelievers don’t want to contribute to the Lord God. That’s one of the reasons why Peter wrote this Epistle…to offer comfort, instruction, and encouragment to believers who lived among many unbelievers, not unlike some of the people we face in our culture today. And yet the Acts 5 text the Disciples kept a loving faith even in the midst of being beaten and tortured.
Is a faith more genuine to others when it appears to be sugar, spice, and everything nice? Or when people see us struggle and yet we continually praise Christ’s name?
You see when people see us going through the destruction from the “tornadoes” that “hit” our lives that’s where they see the living and certain hope described in verse 3. The hope that only comes by means of the resurrected Christ living in our lives.
And not to fear…as verse 5 of our text says our faith in Christ is being constantly guarded by God’s power…if we let Him. That guarding is an on-going action from the Lord. The Disciples demonstrated that, and you can and do to. And that’s a witness of faith which doesn’t come across as judgmental or holier than thou. And you never know when that faith may touch another person’s life.
And I’ll give you a great example as I close today’s sermon. When I was attending Concordia Seminary I would frequently eat lunch with a young man named Eric. He was a first year student when I was in my second year of studies. One day he got pulled out of class by the Seminary’s head nurse who told him his white blood count was 50 times higher than normal. It scared him greatly. He and his wife were thousands of miles from their hometown. He was a student in debt, struggling with income, trying to get through difficult classes only to eventually be told he had Leukemia. His white blood cell count was 250,000. He said when he was told that his heart sank into the pit of his stomach.
Then to add insult to injury…a good friend of his, Kyle, who he had just talked to, died of electrocution. After Kyle died, his grandmother had a stroke, his mom had melanoma, a suicide occurred in their family, and to add insult to injury their two-year-old cat died.
Eric said, “I found death in life. I became so overwhelmed with the tragedy that surrounded me that I was no longer able to cope. I simply denied my feelings. I had great difficulty connecting to those around me, and my relationship with my wife even suffered. I was disconnected from life. As I thought about that, I realized that the cancer did not cause my death-in-life. In fact, after much contemplation, I realized over time, I experienced less life. My ability to connect with people died out. This happened a long time before the cancer. True joy had left me, and everything I touched suffered because of it.”
When Eric was filing out the paperwork at the oncologist’s office the receptionist there was listening to Eric’s story. She told him something that changed his life. Something he would never forget. She said, “Remember Eric, we are promised resurrected bodies.”
And that is the hope Eric said that he was forced to cling to as he said: “Christ’s death means that even if I die young, I will be resurrected. I will follow Christ from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. In that is the power to live.”
Why does the Lord test our faith in Him if He loves us so much?
You are tested because Jesus loves you and He does not want you to fall away from the faith. Through challenges you face, your faith grows ever closer to Him, becomes more vivid to others, and is lived in a way that glorifies Him more. And when that happens we appreciate what happened on that first Easter even more.
Remember all testing and sufferings are temporary.
God’s blessings as you feel the joy and relief from passing His tests to see His love ever more clearly. Amen.