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Joy in the Midst of Testing
1 Peter 1:6–7
1 Peter Lesson #027
September 17, 2015
“Father, we’re thankful that we have this opportunity to come together to focus on Your Word about what it means to trust You, to walk by the means of faith, to have faith in Your Word, to focus on what You have taught us so we might use that as we encounter the various tests in life as we face both adversity as well as prosperity.
Father we know that You have a purpose for taking us through different trials and different situations. Ultimately this has to do with our spiritual growth, our maturation, and getting rid of that in our life which is dependence upon the sin nature and teaching us to depend more consistently upon God the Holy Spirit.
Now, Father, we pray that You will help us as we get into a new little section here where Peter’s introduction focuses on the role of tests and adversity of the Christian life. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We’re getting into this new section, starting in 1 Peter 1:6. Actually tonight we’re going to be focusing on 1 Peter 1:6–9, doing a little bit of an overview because this starts to narrow the focus of what Peter is telling his readers about.
As I’ve pointed out in the past, among scholars and students of the Word, you often find Peter being written to a group of believers who are encountering persecution. They often tried to figure out how this related to Roman or Romans persecution. I don’t think you can do that at this particular time in history.
It makes a lot more sense since he is writing this to those who are identified as the pilgrims or as the aliens, those who are resident aliens in the Diaspora, which is always a technical term for the scattered Jews throughout the Roman Empire. They are no longer living in the land of Judea.
So he’s addressing them and I think the persecution they are going through is personal. I think it has to do with the fact that these are believers who have put their faith in Jesus as the Messiah. They are facing a lot of opposition, much as Paul encountered tremendous opposition from Jews in Thessalonica, in Philippi, in Ephesus, and in other areas.
When Paul would initially go in, as you remember from our study in Acts, he would go to a synagogue. Sometimes he would teach for a week. Sometimes for three or four weeks on a Sabbath. There would be a certain number of people who would respond.
Once these issues became clear then the elders of the synagogue would react, sometimes in great hostility. They would bring him up on charges before the local magistrates and riots would break out.
On the first missionary journey there were groups of Jews that followed him from city to city causing all kinds of problems from the way they misrepresented what he was teaching. They slandered and maligned Paul and Barnabas and later Paul and Timothy and Silas.
I believe it is more of that kind of thing. These were Jewish-background believers who, because of their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, were going through hostility, ridicule, and in some cases they have lost jobs. It may have impacted their business. There were a lot of different ways in which they faced these different trials. This is the core of why Peter is writing 1st Peter.
What’s interesting is that as we get into this next section in verses 6–9, we will be doing a lot of work going back and forth into James, which is always kind of fun. There are a few people here who were with me when I taught James up in Preston City. A lot of you, I know, have listened to that series. We just have it on audio. It is not on video. There are a lot of similarities here. The key vocabulary in 1 Peter 1:6–9 is the same vocabulary you have in James 1:2–4.
James is written to encourage, again, a group of Jewish-background believers in terms of enduring and persevering in the midst of difficult trials and tests. So there is a lot of similarities in those texts.
James was written early. I believe it is the first New Testament epistle. It may have been written as early as AD 43 or 44, just about a decade after the Cross. Whereas Peter is written somewhat later, probably in the early 60s. Both of these are addressing Jewish-background believers.
I got a question the other day and I have been working through the answer to this question myself. That is if James and Peter are written to Jewish-background believers, how much application do they have for Gentile believers? The answer is that Jew and Gentile, whether early in the Church Age or later in the Church Age, are still one in the body of Christ.
So it applies to both, even if there are certain aspects of the circumstances these believers were facing because they were Jewish, Peter is emphasizing certain things. We will get into this a lot more when we get into 1 Peter 2.
Peter is emphasizing certain things by way of application to them but it is equally applicable to any believer in the body of Christ. From the Day of Pentecost on, all Jews were baptized by the Holy Spirit. The apostles were baptized by the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Those who responded to their ministry, the Samaritans and even the Gentiles in Acts 10 and other Jews, for example, the followers of John the Baptist in John 19 were all baptized by the Spirit.
So they’re all in the body of Christ. Equally. We have to work through that a little bit but that is kind of an overview.
What Peter is doing here is focusing on how to face any kind of persecution, any kind of hostility, any kind of adversity, any kind of difficulty, on the basis of understanding God’s plan and purpose for our lives. So we are going to dig into some of these very important issues. It is always interesting that when you start talking about suffering and adversity and trials and testing, that these are very popular topics with people because everyone goes through these particular types of things.
What we have to understand, just by way of background, is a little review of this chart. We’re looking at this context as I have laid out for the last two weeks at really phase two in light of phase three. Terms like saved should be understood more in the terms of being delivered from present trials in phase two.
Phase one takes place at a moment in time when we trust in Christ as Savior. We believe the gospel, that Jesus Christ died on the Cross for our sins, and that He was buried and rose again the third day and that by trusting in Him we have eternal life. That is given to us. We are a new creature in Christ. We are a babe.
Peter talks about this at the beginning of 1 Peter 2, that like a newborn babe, we are to desire the milk of the Word that we may grow by it. His emphasis is on the Word. We grow by the Word. That provides us spiritual nourishment.
This spiritual growth that takes place during our lifetime is part of our progressive or experiential sanctification as we are learning to be delivered from the power of sin in our life. This is one thing that motivates us as we go through difficult times which is what specifically Peter has in mind. These readers are going through some hard times. It is difficult for them.
As we go through them, we are motivated by the end game, which is where God is taking us into phase three, into glorification. That becomes a present time motivator to strengthen us when we understand where we are going and where the end game is. We can talk about that.
Job has some good things to say about trouble and difficulty. Job, of course, faced some of the most serious degrees of suffering in the Old Testament in order to teach us some things. I think it is interesting that Job is more than likely the very first book to be written in the Old Testament.
It is the first book that we know of that was inspired by God to be preserved and placed in the Canon. It preceded Genesis, not in time, but Genesis, remember, is written by Moses during the wilderness wanderings between 1446 and 1406 BC.
Job lived roughly at the time of the patriarchs. His time probably overlapped with the latter part of Abraham’s life and Isaac’s life. We don’t know exactly or precisely but it was at about that same time period.
Job is interesting because it is the only book in the Old Testament that doesn’t say anything about Israel. It is not even mentioned. For that reason, among others, it appears that Job was probably written prior to the birth of the Jewish people. That would put him at about the same time as the very beginning. That’s not much of an issue.
In Job we read, “For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” He uses the imagery there of a fire.
If you have ever camped out at night or if you are barbecuing with a grill where you are using charcoal and you stir it up, it’s the law of physics that heat rises and the sparks go up. That is inevitable.
What Job is saying here is that trouble in life is inevitable. We cannot get around it. We are going to face adversity for several reasons but primarily because we are living in a fallen world that is corrupt. It is the devil’s world and as long as we are living in the devil’s world ruled by the devil who is the prince and power of the air, the god of this age, then we are always going to have trouble and difficulty.
In Job 14:1, Job says, “Man, who is born of woman…” This fits everyone but Adam. “Man who is born of woman, is few of days and full of trouble.” Don’t you feel better now?
But we have great promises of God related to this concept of trouble. It is just a generic term in the Old Testament for facing difficulty, heartache, trouble, adversity, and disappointment.
In Psalm 9:9 we read, “The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” Some of these are great promises to go to that God is our refuge in times of trouble. He doesn’t leave us just to deal with the trouble or adversity on our own but we take refuge in Him.
Other images we have in the Psalms is that He provides a cleft in the rock. He is our fortress and He is the one who surrounds us and protects us.
In Psalm 31:7 we read, “I will be glad…” Now remember, most of these psalms I am quoting here are from the early psalms and they are written by David. David certainly had his share of difficulty and heartache from the time he left home just to take lunches to his brothers and then he ended up fighting Goliath.
Once he came to Saul’s attention, he is persecuted by Saul who is the king in Israel, the anointed king in Israel. Saul is seeking his life. As we have seen there are numerous attempts by Saul to take David’s life so he is being persecuted by the man to whom he owes his loyalty.
On two occasions he flees to seek refuge among the Philistines who will protect him. They know who he is and they are afraid of him and he had to feign madness in order to escape with his life.
Many of the psalms are written about his enemies and adversaries who seek to take him down. He is the object of conspiracies. There is the conspiracy to overthrow his reign by his son, Absalom. David knew all of these difficulties, adversities and he had to turn to the Lord completely to sustain him.
In Psalm 31:7 we read, “I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, for You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities.” This is a great comfort for us because it points out that God pays attention to what we are going through. He is not oblivious to the difficulty.
We have two great pictures of God’s great compassion toward us as we go through adversity. One is from Psalm 56:8, which just occurred to me. David is praying there and he says, “You put my tears in a bottle.” That is a fascinating little cultural thing because they had these little tear bottles. They would be used specifically at the time of a funeral, at the time of someone’s death. The mourners, the family, would preserve their tears in these little tear bottles.
That is the term that David uses there. It is pointing out that God puts our tears in a bottle. He takes specific note of the heartache that we are going through. He preserves that, as it were. He pays attention to that. He is not just distant. He is very intimately focused on the trials, the heartaches, and the difficulties that we face.
We see the same kind of thing take place at the graveside of Lazarus. Lazarus has been in the grave four days. Jesus shows up. He is confronted by first Martha and then Mary because He didn’t get there in time. They are a little bit critical saying that if He had just gotten there in time Lazarus wouldn’t have died.
That is when Jesus makes the well-known statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. Martha, do you believe this?” Martha says, “Yes, Lord, I do.” This is the focal point of the gospel, believing that Jesus is who He claims to be.
Then Jesus goes on and He sees all the mourners and all the crowd there. We have that great verse and if you can’t memorize anything else in Scripture you can memorize this verse. It is the shortest English verse, “Jesus wept.”
Again and again I hear people talk about this verse and they say, “Jesus wept for the death of His friend, Lazarus.” That may tell a nice story but if you just go back in the context a little earlier in John 11, it was Jesus who makes the statement to His disciples that Lazarus is sick unto death for the glory of God.
Jesus makes the statement earlier that He is clearly aware of the fact that the reason He delayed coming to Bethany was because He had a plan. The plan was for Lazarus to die and be buried and go into the grave so that Jesus could demonstrate His power over death by raising Lazarus from the dead.
So He is not weeping over grief for Lazarus. He is weeping because He looks at the crowd and they are distraught in grief over death and He has compassion for them because God never intended us to go through death.
We have been living in an abnormal world ever since Adam bit into the fruit. When he ate that fruit we went from a perfect Creation to a corrupt creation and everything we experience is not what God originally intended.
So grief is a marker that something is wrong. If you have ever experienced the death of someone close to you or if you’ve ever experienced the death of a pet there is something in you that says, “This isn’t right. There is something wrong about this.”
That is right. That is why God puts that death there. It grabs our attention because it is the result of living in a corrupt world. It is a big red flag that something is not right and something needs to be fixed. The only way it can be fixed is to trust in Christ as Savior.
These passages emphasize the great compassion of God for us in the midst of hardship, in the midst of difficulty, and in the midst of adversity.
Psalm 37:39, “But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord…” Now this is an important verse because it tells us from an Old Testament context that the word “salvation” rarely in the Old Testament refers to eternal salvation.
To my knowledge, if it is used as a synonym for justification and getting into Heaven when you die, it is rare. One or two times. I haven’t had time to go through every single use but it is rare.
Especially in the Psalms. The psalms focus on current crisis, current catastrophes, and adversity in the life of the psalmist and he prays that God would deliver him. In other words, “Get me through this terrible situation, Lord. Deliver me out of it so I can go forward and enjoy all the blessings of life you have given me.
So when David said in Psalm 37:39, “But the salvation of the righteous…” He not talking about eternal justification, he is talking about present time, phase two deliverance from some sort of crisis or adversity. “But the deliverance of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble.”
Then in Psalm 41:1 David says, “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.” Again, this emphasizes that God is the One who delivers us.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t secondary means or causes or things that we can do, but ultimately the One who delivers us is God. We have to put our faith and trust in Him. Sometimes there are no secondary things we can do. Sometimes there are some secondary things we can do, depending on the situation, depending on the circumstances.
When Hezekiah was pinned in by the army of Assyria, there wasn’t a thing he could do and he prayed to God. The Lord Jesus Christ sent an angel [He was the messenger] and they destroyed the army and annihilated the army of Sennacherib. They got up the next morning and the army was dead or gone. That was a picture of having to rely exclusively on the Lord and not do anything.
There are other examples where you did something. It may not make a lot of sense like at Jericho. You are going to conquer Jericho and God says, “Okay, what you are going to do is keep completely silent, no words, no utterances, no cheerleading, and no catcalling. You are going to walk each day once around the walls of Jericho six days and then leave. Then on the seventh day you are walk around and blow the trumpet and yell and the walls will fall down.” Then what did they do? Then they had to go in and fight.
The next campaign was at Ai with a completely different strategy. So sometimes there are things we can do secondarily but ultimately we trust in the Lord and the Lord alone. This applies to every problem we have in life.
A couple of other verses: Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” This is a verse many of us have memorized. God is always present. He is our refuge. It is His strength. He is there in times of trouble.
Then Psalm 50:15, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Great promise to take and to learn for times of trouble.
Then from the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 10:13, [a verse we will come back to several times in this study], “No temptation…” The word there for temptation is the same word that is used in our passage in 1 Peter for trial. It can mean trial. It can mean test. It can mean temptation. We will talk about the distinctions as we go along.
No temptation has overtaken you or no test has overtaken you “except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested beyond your ability…” Now that doesn’t mean that when you pray He is going to make it go away, but He gives us the resources to handle it.
I believe primarily that is the resources of the Word of God plus the Spirit of God. “He will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear or endure it.” Endurance is a critical doctrine in 1 Peter and primarily in James related to how to handle testing.
What I want to do for a moment is just put 1 Peter 1:6–9 up. This is actually one sentence in the Greek. It is one thought but like the first sentence, Peter tends to put the main sentence right up front and everything else that follows it are just secondary and tertiary clauses related to the main idea.
I’m going to read this and I want you to think about this and then we are going to do a little exercise. I want you think about this and it is an application of observation like in Bible Study Methods to see what you see in this passage. What are the key words, the key terms?
Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, 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, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
So just a little fun thing. What are some of the key words you see in this particular passage? Just shout it out. “Rejoice.” We have rejoice and joy three times. We have rejoice in verse 6 and then he comes back to it in verse 8, “you rejoice with joy inexpressible.” What do think that tells him about what you are talking about here? The primary idea he is talking about? It is going to be joy.
What else do you see? “Faith.” Yes faith and believing are used twice. The genuineness of your faith in verse 7, the end of your faith in verse 9, and yet believing in verse 8. So three times you have faith mentioned. We are going to have to decide exactly that that means.
What else do you see?’ “Trials and testing.” We see various trials in 1 Peter 1:6 and the testing by fire and what is fascinating here and I will point this out in just a minute is that those are really different words. You think they are connected in English but they are not in the Greek.
What else? Anybody see anything else? “Praise, honor, and glory?” That is right. Glory is actually mentioned twice at the end of verse 7 and at the end of verse 8. So that is important.
I color-coded this a little bit to point out some of the things that are similar. You have rejoice three times, the idea of joy, rejoice twice and joy once.
Then you have the word grieved. Often in the Christian life there is sort of this myth that if I am walking by the Spirit I am going to have joy and I am not going to have sorrow. What we have in Scripture is the reality that you have both. You can have joy which overrides everything at the same time you are going through grief and sorrow, some sort of what we would often consider to be a negative emotional situation. You are saddened by something. So we have to take a look at grief. And you are grieved by these various trials. That tells us these are not positive tests but negative tests of adversity.
Then if you notice in verse 7 I have the word “genuineness” and the word “tested” by fire both marked in green. That is because they are both based on the same word. The genuineness of your faith is the Greek word DOKIMION which means a testing and an evaluation. It is only used in two places. It is used here in 1 Peter 1:7 and it is used in guess where else? James 1:3. So that is another of our connections.
By the way, you have joy mentioned in James 1:2 and various trials mentioned here and it is the same Greek terminology in James 1:2 when you encounter various trials.
You have glory mentioned in verse 7 and again in verse 8 and that glory is at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Does anybody see anything going on in verse 7 that reminds them of another passage in Scripture other than James 1? The Judgment Seat of Christ in 1 Corinthians 3:13 where we also have DOKIMAZO where all our works are tested by fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ to see what is left, what is approved, and what survives. That is identified as gold, silver, and precious stones. So there is a lot of similarity there.
Also in 1 Peter 1:8 we see a motivational factor and that is that though we have not seen the Lord Jesus Christ, we love Him. That love for the Lord Jesus Christ we often refer to as occupation with Christ. That motivates us by faith. So “Whom having not seen you love [the Lord Jesus Christ] though now you do not see Him yet by believing we rejoice with joy.”
“By believing” – I think that should be translated as an instrumental participle. By believing we rejoice with joy. Faith is the means that leads us to rejoicing with joy inexpressible and full of glory. Then verse 9 starts off with another participle, “receiving”. This should be a temporal participle, “When you receive the end of your faith.” Okay, so we have faith mentioned again. That just gives us a little bit of a fly-over.
As I mentioned in verse 7 there is a similarity with 1 Corinthians 3:13 talking about the Judgment Seat of Christ, that “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work.”
There is our verb DOKIMAZO which does not mean to test to show where our failures are, but to test to show where our successes are. That is really important.
When you take a raw metal ore and you refine it, you put it in the fire and the fire burns off the dross. It burns off the impurities. What is left is what is of value. That is what happens at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The focal point is not to expose the failures, not to expose the wood, hay, and straw. It is to destroy the wood, hay, and straw so that what is left is that which goes into eternity, that which has value.
The other thing we can say when we look at these four verses, one sentence, to just summarize it in one phrase would be “Rejoicing in the midst of present trial because our knowledge of the Word [critical all through Peter] and our love for Christ which enables us to look to a future deliverance in this life [we’re going to be delivered from this test] as well as the glories to come.” It is not just far off in eternity that everything is going to get resolved but there is a sense of present deliverance, as well.
I want to go through this fly-over a little bit based on what we just did. First of all, it starts with this phrase “in this”. When we look at that, we ought to be asking the question, “in this what?” This takes us back to what was just said. I am going to talk about it more in detail.
This is basically a reference back to verses 2–4 which focuses on the doctrine of everything that God has in His plan for us, from regeneration in verse 3, to the rewards of our inheritance in verse 5. This is the doctrine that He is referring to “in that we greatly rejoice.” It is that doctrine, the understanding of God’s plan for each one of us that we can rejoice in the midst of fiery trials.
The first thing we note in that phrase is that it takes us right back to what we studied in verses 3–5. The second thing we see is that Peter tells us, just like James, that joy is critical as a problem-solving device. We have to understand joy. We have to focus on joy. It is a mental attitude and we will learn some things about it as we go along this evening.
Joy is what enables us to get through the trials. This is a gift of God, in one sense. It is developed through God the Holy Spirit. It is supernatural. It is not something we conjure up. It is not happiness. There are three things you need to learn about joy.
First of all, to the degree that we base our happiness on people, circumstances, or events, to that degree we are enslaved by those things. Just think about that a little bit.
That is a profound statement. Every one of us has these things that we think about like “if I just had enough money”, “if I just had this status symbol”, “this car”, “that car”, “if this person liked me” or “if that person liked me” or “if I just achieved these goals in life”, then I would be happy.
What we are saying is that our mental attitude state of happiness is really dependent upon certain people treating us a certain way, certain circumstances conforming to the way we would like them to conform, and certain events taking place in our lives.
So the degree to which we base our happiness on people, circumstances, or events, to that degree we become enslaved to those things. We are saying, “I can’t be happy unless that happens.” Well, if that never happens, then you are saying that you will never be happy. You just made yourself a slave and put yourself in a horrible situation.
The second thing is that when we base our happiness on people, circumstances, and events which basically are the details of life, whatever those things might be, then you put those people or those events in charge of your emotional well-being.
Someone might say, “I just want so-and-so to love me.” Well, basically you just put them in charge of your emotional well-being. If they don’t like you, if they don’t treat you with respect, if they don’t respond to you in a certain way, then what you said is that they are in charge. It’s not up to my volition. It is up to that person and if they don’t treat me right I am going to be miserable. Everything is in their hands.
We can’t do that. Tuesday night I think I mentioned a couple of professors I had at Dallas Seminary who taught pastoral psychology, Paul Meier and Frank Minirth. They wrote a book. The title of the book was great but the book wasn’t. The title was Happiness is a Choice... That is the point.
Happiness or joy is a result of your volitional decision to focus on the Word of God and let that dictate the mentality and the mental state of your soul. You cannot become enslaved to circumstances. You cannot let people control your emotions.
The third thing is that if you base your happiness on the details of life, people, circumstances, or events, then I will guarantee you will be miserable and you will never be happy in life. One day somebody looks at you and smiles and you are on top of the world. The next day they look at you and frown and you just crater.
The most extreme example I can think of this is back when I was a counselor at Camp Peniel. I was probably 20 or 21 at the time. Most of the counselors were 19–21. There was one week of summer camp that we all were hoping we would be somewhere else. That was the week of the older girls’ camp. Older girls’ camp was for girls that were 13–15. Girls who are 13–15 just have all kinds of emotional instabilities.
We used to laugh. We could be sitting at the table with the staff that was separated from the campers and we might inadvertently let our eyes gaze over to the area where the campers were. Some girl might think we were looking at them and suddenly she had a crush on you. The next day you walked right by her and didn’t even smile and you just created a problem for her counselor for the next three days.
That is what happens when we base our happiness on how someone else responds to us we are just guaranteed that we are going to be miserable. It’s not nice when someone doesn’t treat us with respect and it’s not nice when someone hurts our feelings but we can’t let our ultimate stability and joy be dependent on people, circumstances, and events. We are going to get into an important study of what the Bible teaches about joy.
Now the next thing we see here is that Peter emphasizes joy in the battle when we face trials. He says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by these various trials.” The word for trial essentially means a test. It can mean a temptation and it can mean an external or objective test.
The word basically means to be put in a situation where you have to make a choice. A lot of Christians get the idea that a test is something where you have to make a big decision. We are tested 60 seconds out of every minute, 60 minutes out of every hour, and 24 hours out of every day, and 7 days a week.
A test is as simple as to whether you are going to think thoughts that honor God or not. Are you going to respond in anger, hostility, and resentment to the jerk who just cut you off in traffic or are you going to turn them over the Lord and let Him handle it?
Every second we have a choice as to whether we are going to be walking by the Spirit or walking according to the sin nature. That is ultimately what the test is. Are you going to respond to this circumstance? It may just be what we are doing in our spare time. It may be when we’re just sitting around and where our thoughts go.
Are we going to dwell on what someone did to us and have thoughts of thinking how we can get back at them? Or how joyful it would make us if God would just let us witness His discipline on them? I know no one here has ever thought that.
Every moment is really a test. How are we going to spend that time? Paul says to redeem the time, so how are we going to spend it? Every moment is a test. It may not be a big test. It may just be how are you spending these five seconds? Are you walking by the Spirit and focusing on the Lord?
It doesn’t have to mean you’re thinking about Scripture but it means that Philippians 4:8 that we’re thinking on those things, whatsoever is right, whatsoever is virtuous, whatsoever is honest, whatsoever is of good report. Think on these things, Paul says. Are we thinking on those things or thinking about other things? That has to do with the tests. We have to have joy to face all those tests.
Fourth, there is a clear recognition in verse 6 that the Christian life will have times of emotional ups and downs. We are going to have times when we are disturbed. We are going to have times when, perhaps, we are distressed. We are going to have times when we go through periods of grief. It’s not all going to be a mountain-top manic experience.
There are going to be times when it’s not so hot. We are responding to the fact that there are terrible things that happen in the devil’s world. Even though we sorrow and grieve, we still have hope and we still have joy.
The word that is used here for grieve is the word LUPEO in the Greek. Other forms of it are used to describe the sorrow that the Lord Jesus Christ experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He went to the Cross.
Paul uses the same word when he says that when experiencing the death of a loved one that we sorrow but not like those who have no hope. This is a reality in the life of believers and we need to be honest about that, that it’s not wrong to grieve or be sad or sorrowful at times. It doesn’t mean you are not walking by the Spirit.
But if you respond to that sorrow and sadness and grief in your life wrongly, then what you are doing you are trying to handle those sorrowful emotions through sin, through your own efforts.
Jesus had sorrow as He looked at the Cross. He had two options: run from the Cross or embrace the Cross. He embraced the Cross. He said, “Father, if it is Your will, let this cup pass from Me.” He is talking about what is going to happen on the Cross. Then He said, “Nevertheless, not My will but Thy will be done.” The option is there. He has the sorrow but it depends on what He is going to do with it as to whether it goes to sin or not to sin.
We may go through periods of grief and sorrow or any number of things. It may be difficult. You may go through a time when you are unemployed and it is a terrible struggle. It is also a great time to trust the Lord and grow spiritually.
I know times I have gone through difficult times, when you are in it, you don’t see how God is refining you. Maybe 10 years later you look back and you say, “You know that was a miserable experience but the Lord certainly taught me a lot and I grew through it. But I hated every minute of it.” So we can grieve through various trials.
The fifth thing that we see here is the important role that testing plays. It’s a testing for evaluation. It is that word that is used in verse 7, that “genuineness”. It has the idea of the approval or it is demonstrating the value of the faith that you have. You have to ask the question if this is the act of trusting God in terms of like the faith-rest drill or is it the doctrine that is in our soul and using the doctrine in our soul. I think that’s more the focus here.
That’s what James is saying, “Knowing that the testing of your faith…” Lots of people say, “Just have faith.” In what? What are you supposed to have faith in? Faith in the Word. So it is the doctrinal content of your soul that is being tested. You learned it.
You’ve been in Bible class. You have 15 Bible doctrine notebooks but are you using it in the midst of a difficult situation? That’s what is being tested. Are you willing to trust the doctrine that you’ve learned?
Then it uses the imagery, “Though it is tested by fire.” Later in 1 Peter 5 he talks about “Don’t be surprised when fiery trials come upon you.” It’s just a metaphor for the intensity of the adversity. The end result of this is going to bring praise, honor, and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ at the revelation.
We see the role the importance of testing plays and the term at the “revelation of Jesus Christ” refers to the Rapture and the Bema Seat, the Judgment Seat of Christ that comes after the Rapture. That is when the works of the believer are going to be evaluated and tested. That is where rewards and inheritance will be passed out.
So, the fifth point is that we see the important role that testing plays.
Sixth, the “revelation of Jesus Christ” refers to the Rapture which is immediately followed by the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Then in 1 Peter 1:7 we have a parenthetical ellipsis, a parenthetical phrase to tell us again about the motivation. Jesus Christ is the one we haven’t seen. Though we haven’t seen Him, we love Him, and that motivates us to keep trusting Him so we can have that joy in our soul. That little parenthetical phrase in verse 8, emphasizes that it is by believing that we rejoice, by using the faith-rest drill there.
Then we experience “joy inexpressible and full of glory.” We’ll get into those things a little later.
Then the eighth thing we see is in verse 9. It says receiving [“obtaining” in the New American Standard] and it is the idea that receiving the end of your faith. When we look at the word “end” we often think of the end of a series of things. That makes us think of the end of our life. You look at this and it looks like we are talking about the end game at the glorification at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It’s not talking about that.
It’s taking about the end result, the goal or the outcome of our faith. We trust God in the midst of a trial and what’s the outcome? It’s what David prayed for throughout the Psalms. “Deliver me from my enemies.” Then when God delivers him, he rejoices that God has delivered him from his enemies. So this is talking about going through a time of challenge, a time of heartache, a time of difficulty, and coming out the other end. We’re then able to rejoice exceedingly.
If we put this together he says, “Yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith,” So it’s talking about that celebration that occurs when we get out the other end of the tunnel of adversity. So that gives us a good fly-over, helps us understand that the end result Peter is talking about is how we can experience in our lives deliverance in the midst of trials and in the midst of testing.
Let’s just start a little bit into James 1:2. Now you’re in 1 Peter so just turn a few pages and you’re in James. How convenient.
He says, “My brethren [believers], count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” That word various trials as I said earlier is the same phrase that is used in 1 Peter. “Knowing that the testing, [DOKIMION, same word used in 1 Peter] of your faith [PISTIS, the doctrine in your soul] produces endurance, but let endurance have its perfect work.” Perfect is the adjective TELEIOS.
When I was talking about the end of your faith, the Greek word there for end of your faith, the goal, the outcome of your faith, is the Greek word TELOS. It’s just different forms of the same word group, referring to reaching an ultimate goal and in James he uses TELEIOS to emphasize maturity, that this is the way which God matures us.
One of the things that we see in 1 Peter is that Peter starts off in verse 6 saying, “In this you greatly rejoice.” I pointed out that the “in this” takes us back to verses 2–4. The believer should be thinking about God’s plan for their life from regeneration to rewards and that leads to joy.
When we look at James, James just comes right out with this command and says, “Count it all joy.” That’s an imperative. It’s the Greek Word HEGEOMAI which was an accounting term to add up the numbers, add up the data, and come to a conclusion.
So you look at whatever is going on in your life and you add up the data which includes all the provisions and promises of God and result is that the sum of everything is joy. It’s a command here. It’s an aorist imperative and that emphasizes priority.
James is really interesting how he uses imperatives but we’re not going to get into that but he usually starts off a section punching a command and then it is followed up with a lot of present imperatives which talk about your on-going standard operating procedure in the Christian way of life.
So he says, “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” I’m going to stop here because I have about six points on the role of joy in the believer’s life. That will probably take about ten minutes so I’m going to stop here and we will pick up next time.
“Father, we’re thankful that we have this time to study Your Word, to be reminded of Your compassion and care for us, that You do not ignore the troubles, the heartaches, and the traumas that we go through. We’re living in the devil’s world and you have made provision for everyone. There’s not one thing we go through in life that you haven’t provided perfectly through Your plan and through the promises and the principles that are laid out in Your Word.
Father, we pray that as we go through this study on adversity that You will help us to understand these principles, think biblically, think in terms of divine viewpoint, develop wisdom and skillful living in us as we seek to apply these things to our life. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”