Precious Trial of Our Faith
August 26th, 1973 @ 8:15 AM
1 Peter 1:3-8
THE PRECIOUS TRIAL OF OUR FAITH
Dr. W.A. Criswell
1 Peter 1:3-8
8-26-73 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church. This is the pastor bringing the message entitled The Preciousness of the Trial of Our Faith. We are preaching through the general epistles and have started in 1 Peter, and this is the text beginning at verse 3:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 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 honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though you now see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.
[1 Peter 1:3-8]
Do you see the text in 6 and7?
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 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 honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
[1 Peter 1:6-7]
You have here in the King James Version, “Though now in heaviness through manifold temptations the trial of your faith …” [1 Peter 1:6]. The word “temptation,” to us “temptation” has the connotation of being allured into evil. The word for “temptation” in verse 6 [1 Peter 1:6], and for “trial” in verse 7 [1 Peter 1:7], are synonymous, they are alike with this little exception: the word translated “temptation” is peirasmos, and the word translated “trial” is dokimos. Peirazō—the verbal form of it—is a trial, a testing that could be neutral or have an evil connotation, a testing and the outcome may be bad. But dokimos or the verbal form dokimazō is a testing, and the outcome is going to be good.
So, the words that he uses are alike, synonymously; that right now you are in heaviness through many peirasmoi, through many trials that are grievous, bad [1 Peter 1:6]. But, the dokimos, the trial of your faith is more precious than gold. The end of it is good, though it be tried with fire, that we may be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of our Lord [1 Peter 1:7].
The occasion of the writing of that to these members—the sojourners of the Diaspora of the six provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia—the occasion of the writing of it is very apparent. When Nero—mad, insane emperor Nero accused the Christians of burning the imperial city of Rome in order to take away the blame and suspicion from himself, he violently persecuted, decimated, hounded the followers of our Lord. “These are the ones that have burned the city!” And they literally took those Christians—this is about, we’re talking about 64 AD—he literally took those Christians and daubed them with pitch and used them, hung them up and used them for burning torches to line the streets of the city of Rome while he furiously drove his chariot through the streets.
It was a vicious thing that happened under Nero. Now the provinces always copied the manners and the attitudes of the imperial city; only to an extremity, they did it more so. And when the provinces saw that the Caesar and the capital city persecuted and martyred the followers of Christ, they immediately followed example, only more viciously. So the trial by fire, the testing by fire that the Christians were undergoing in Rome became even more vicious in the provinces: Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.
In that terrible persecution, the apostle Paul was beheaded, and Peter was crucified with his head down. Both of these great representatives of Christ lost their lives in this trial by fire. Simon Peter before he was martyred, and he speaks of it in the second epistle, Simon Peter, knowing he was going to be martyred, he writes these letters, two of them, here to these in the Diaspora; the disciples of Christ that are scattered abroad in what we know today as Asia Minor.
Now he uses a word to describe that trial by fire that is astonishing to me, it is amazing to me; it is the word timē; “precious,” of great value. “Timē, that the timē of your faith, that the trial of your faith, being much more timē, ‘precious’ than gold that perisheth” [1 Peter 1:7]. And the remarkable thing as you look at it is the way Simon Peter likes the word. In these general epistles that word timē, precious, will be used once by James [James 5:7], not at all by John, not at all by Jude, but Simon Peter will use it seven times; it is very noticeable. The first time here, “The trial of your faith being much more timē—precious—than of gold” [1 Peter 1:7]. The second time in the nineteenth verse: “You are redeemed not with corruptible things like silver and gold . . . but with the timē blood of Christ, with the precious blood of Christ” [1 Peter 1:18-19].
In the second chapter in verse 4, he will use it, “To whom coming to our Lord, as unto a living stone, disallowed by men, but chosen of God, and timē—precious” [1 Peter 2:4]. Then he uses the same word in the sixth verse, “I lay in Zion a [chief] corner stone, elect, timē—precious” [1 Peter 2:6]. Then he uses it again in the seventh verse, which is one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible, “Unto you therefore who believe, He is timē He is precious” [1 Peter 2:7]. Then when we turn to his second epistle, he uses that word twice again, “Simon Peter”—verse 1—”a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them who have attained like timē—precious—faith” [2 Peter 1:1]. Then he will use it in the fourth verse, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and timē promises, precious promises” [2 Peter 1:4].
Now we’re going to look at the way he uses this word which is astonishing; it is unbelievable! I can understand his use of the word in 2 Peter 1:4: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and timē promises, precious promises.” I can see that easily; they are precious, the promises of God, they are timē promises. I can easily understand it when he uses the word for faith, “to them that have attained like timē faith—precious faith” [2 Peter 2:1]. The faith that saves us by which we die; I can understand that, a timē faith, a precious faith” [2 Peter 2:1]. I can understand it when he uses the word with reference to our Lord in verse 4, 6, and 7 of the second chapter of the first epistle, talking about our Lord, “He is timē” [1 Peter 2:4, 6, 7], “Unto you therefore who believe our Savior is precious, He is timē” [1 Peter 2:7]. And I can understand it when he uses it with regard to the blood that represents the poured out crimson of the life of our Savior, “We are not redeemed with corruptible things. We are not bought with silver and gold, but with the timē blood of Christ, the precious blood of Jesus” [1 Peter 1:18-19]. I can understand that but when he uses the word here, the first time that he uses it in our text:
The trial of your faith is much more timē—precious—than of gold that perisheth, though that faith be tried with fire, that we might be found unto the praise and honor and glory at the appearing of our Lord.
[1 Peter 1:7]
That suffering, and agony—yea, and martyrdom—should be timē, precious, more precious than gold. How could it be? How is it that trial is timē, precious? [1 Peter 1:7]. How is it that in agony to believe in hope against hope is precious? How is it that in great suffering there is preciousness? Trial unto death; how is that precious?
Well, that’s the sermon. As you think of it and take it before God and let the Lord in the Spirit speak to you, immediately there comes to our souls the real and significant meaning of what the apostle is saying. The trial, agony, the dearness, the cost of the thing makes it precious. If you suffer for it, if you weep over it, if you cry, maybe if you die for it, it immediately becomes timē, precious.
All right, let’s look at it in human relationships. It is these for whom we suffer, over whom we weep, for whom we agonize who are timē, precious to us. When Jacob was making his way to the south and left Bethel, he came down to a little town called Bethlehem, and there Rachel, the wife that he loved, travailed in pain and in giving birth to a son, dying in childbirth, she called his name, ben oni, Benjamin, and there near Bethlehem Jacob buried her and set a pillar above her grave [Genesis 35:16-20].
The lad was the youngest of the twelve sons of Israel, but he was timē, he was precious to the patriarch beyond what mind could understand. And it was so that when Joseph was sold into Egypt [Genesis 37:28, 36], and became prime minister [Genesis 41:41], that the ten sons of Israel went down to find food, for there was a great drought in Canaan [Genesis 42:5], and they appeared before the brother whom they had sold, not knowing who he was [Genesis 42:6-8]—now prime minister of the greatest nation then in the earth [Genesis 41:41].
And the prime minister said, “You leave your brother Simeon here, Simeon here. You take this food back to your father [Genesis 42:19, 24]. But do you have another brother?” [Genesis 43:7]. And they looked at one another in amazement, “Why should he ask if we have another brother?” They answered, “Yes, a little one who is dear, precious to his father who is not with us” [Genesis 42:15-16]. The man said, “If you come back for more food, don’t you return unless you bring that little brother” [Genesis 42:20].
As the days passed, the famine was fierce; Israel said to his sons, “You must go down into Egypt and buy more corn” [Genesis 43:1-2]. And they said, “But the man said except we bring with us our youngest brother, we are not to see his face” [Genesis 43:3]. And Israel said, “You shall not take Benjamin. Joseph is lost. Wild animals have eaten him up! This is the child of my love and the child of Rachel’s sorrow and death. He is too precious” [Genesis 42:36-38].
And as the famine waxed fiercer and they faced starvation, Israel had no other choice, so they took Benjamin; Joseph’s brother [Genesis 43:13-15]. And the story, you remember, the cup found in Benjamin’s sack, and they returned, and the man says, “The rest of you can go, including Simeon, whom I have held hostage here that you would return [Genesis 44:12-17]. All of you can go, but Benjamin is to stay.”
Then Judah, who had pledged to his father, Israel, his own life to protect the life of the boy [Genesis 43:8-9], [Judah] drew near [Genesis 44:18-34], and in the forty-fourth and forty-fifth chapters of the Book of Genesis, made the most moving appeal that human tongue had ever uttered! And he closed it after describing the death of the boy’s mother and how dear he was, precious he was, to his father’s heart. Judah ended the appeal with this sentence: “How shall I go up to my father and the lad be not with me?” [Gen 44:34]. It was too much for human heart to bear, and when Judah said that, Joseph burst into tears, put all of his slaves and servants away from him, and said to his brother, “Come near, come near, for I am Joseph, your brother.” And he took Benjamin and kissed him [Genesis 45:1-14].
Why all of that? For the very obvious and simple reason; it is these for whom we suffer, who have cost the most, over whom we prayed the most earnestly, who are the most timē, precious to us. It is just the opposite of what you would think. If it cost nothing, if there are no tears for it, if there’s no agony over it, you treat it lightly; but if it costs, it is precious, timē. That is the human relation.
It is no less so in our spiritual relationships, “The trial of your faith is more precious than gold that perisheth” [1 Peter 1:7]. It is true in our spiritual relationships, our trials chain us to God. Job, losing all that he had, finally his health [Job 1:13-19, 2:7], sat in an ash heap covered with sores, boils from the top of his head to the sole of his feet [Job 2:8]. And when Job’s comforters came [Job 2:11-13], you could see the pride of the man as he defends and justifies his integrity [Job 3:1-26]. When you read the Book of Job, you have there written large on the sacred page, the pride of a good man who knew he was a good man!
Job held his head high before the Lord; he threw his shoulders back before his peers, and Job described the philanthropies of his life, and the altruism of his spirit, and the good deeds that he did, and the paragon of his example [Job 19:1-24, 31:1-40]. All through, Job is proud and lifted up. But when the Lord deals with him, and when the Lord talks to him, and when the Lord shows him how really the spirit of a man should be in the presence of the High God, in the forty-second, the last chapter of Job, listen to the good man, listen to the best man—God said he was [Job 1:8, 2:3]—listen to the best man in the earth as he cries before God, and says, “O God, I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eyes seeth Thee: Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” [Job 42:5-6]. The trial of his faith, the agony of his suffering brought him low before God; it is precious.
I haven’t time to speak of Paul who, in the eleventh chapter of 2 Corinthians, names all of those labors that he says are all more abundant than all the other apostles [2 Corinthians 11:23-33]. Then beginning in chapter 12, he describes the revelations that are given unto him when he was taken up into the third heaven where God is [2 Corinthians 12:1-6]. Then he says, “The Lord sent a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, and I took it to God thrice and asked God to remove it, take it away, and the Lord said, Not so, for My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore,” says the apostle, “I glory in mine infirmities and necessities and trials and tears and agony; For when I am weak, then am I strong” [2 Corinthians 12:7-10]. “The trial of our faith is precious” [1 Peter 1:7].
I must close. It is so in our heavenly relationships: it is the trial, it is the sorrow, it is the agony, it is the teardrop, it is the suffering that makes heaven, heaven. “Pastor, that’s the most amazing thing that an intelligent man can say, that heaven is made up of the agony, and the tears, and the heartache, and the sorrows, and the death that we experience in this life.” I did not invent that, it is not my thought, it is what God says, listen:
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the old first heaven and the old first earth were passed away . . . and I John saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying unto me, “Look. Look. Behold, the dwelling place of God is with men. And God shall wipe all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for these old former things are all passed away.
Now you tell me, what would that mean? “And there shall be no more death [Revelation 21:4]. What would that mean to one who had never seen a loved one lowered into the heart of the earth? “And there shall be no more sorrow” [Revelation 21:4]. What would that mean to someone who had never been brokenhearted? “And there shall be no more tears [Revelation 21:4]. What would that mean to somebody who has never cried? “And there shall be no more pain” [Revelation 21:4]. What would that mean to somebody who never knew what it was to hurt? It is the very trial that makes heaven timē; precious.
One time upon a day a long time ago, I heard a chorus; the song moved me. It’s the first time I ever heard it; the song moved me, but when I learned of the young woman who was singing it, I literally wept remembering it. It’s a song about the twenty-third Psalm:
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me;
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
[Psalm 23:4, 6]
And the young woman, a young mother, had been stricken with cancer and faced an inevitable death; and she sang in triumph this song. And it was the first time that I ever heard it, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow—”I can’t do it! Do you know it? Let’s all sing it.
[Congregation sings, “Surely Goodness and Mercy”]
[John W. Peterson]
Isn’t that like heaven? Just like the presence of God. And that’s the faith that out of the trial, and the tears, and the age, and the death, and the heartache, and the sorrow, God shall give us some new and better thing. It is timē; it is precious.
In a moment now we stand to sing our hymn of appeal. And while we sing it, a family, a couple, or just you, giving your heart to God, putting your life with us in this dear church, loving Jesus who died, whose precious love cleanses us from all sin [1 John 1:7], looking forward to His appearing [2 Timothy 4:8], for all that heaven shall mean. If God speaks to your heart today, come. Answer with your life, do it now, while we stand and sing.
PRECIOUS TRIAL OF OUR FAITH
– a trial, testing, could be neutral or have bad outcome(1 Peter 1:6)
– a testing, the outcome is going to be good(1
of Nero, provinces followed suit
Both Paul and Peter martyred
Before his death, Peter wrote these two epistles
Peter describes this trial by fire as time, “precious”(1 Peter 1:7)
1. He uses “precious”
often (1 Peter 1:19, 2:4, 6, 7, 2 Peter 1:1, 4)
2. First time he uses
the word “precious” is in describing the trial by fire
The trial, agony, thecost of the thing makes it precious
II. It is true in human relationships
Rachel and Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-20)
in Egypt, requires Benjamin (Genesis 42:15,
36-38, 43:7, 13-15, 44:12-17, 34, 45:1-15)
III. It is true with spiritual relationships
Our trials chain us to God
Job (Job 1:8, 42:5-6)
Paul(2 Corinthians 11:23-33, 12:2-6, 7-10)
IV. It is true with heavenly relationships
– no more death, sorrow, tears, pain(Revelation