The Refiner's Fire

October 27, 2019

David Sorn

Sometimes God allows or sends difficulty into our lives to test our faith. Why would God do such a thing, and what does He accomplish by doing so?

The Refiner's Fire

October 27, 2019

David Sorn

Sometimes God allows or sends difficulty into our lives to test our faith. Why would God do such a thing, and what does He accomplish by doing so?



All right, this morning, we are continuing in our “When life is hard series”

Suffering is an incredibly complex subject.

Especially if you dive into the reasons for WHY people suffer

Which we’re going to do in the remaining two weeks of this series.

However, I’m only going to hit 2 of about 10 or so reasons the Bible gives for why we suffer.

I chose these particular reasons because they aren’t talked about nearly as often as some of the others.

Today, we’re going to talk about how God sometimes sends (or allows) difficult times …so that our faith may be tested.

And next week, when you come back, we’re going to talk about how God sometimes sends suffering into the world, so that people may be saved.

There are many passages in the New Testament in the Bible that talk about suffering and trials.

And one of the things that you’ll notice when you study these passages, is that almost all of them say something like:

Suffering will come, so don’t forget the Gospel!

The Gospel is that Jesus died to overcome this world of sin and its present sufferings so that believers in Him can spend eternity with Him free of pain and suffering

Let’s open up the Bible together

(page 980)

(renovation app)

We’re going to camp out here, so keep this open

Let’s take a look…

Our passage starts with the Gospel

(1 Peter 1:3-5) – NIV - Talk through the passage

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

So keep all that in mind…as we turn now to WHEN LIFE IS HARD…



In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

There’s something interesting I want you to see in this verse.

It says that the Christian, should greatly rejoice (because of all of those things we just read about in verses 3-5)..

But…it also says, the hard times are going to come (all kinds of them in fact)…

And we will have to suffer grief…sorrows.

Unlike the rest of the world, Christians are able to grieve and rejoice at the same time.

That’s what the verse says… in all this we greatly rejoice…even though we’ve had to suffer grief

The Apostle Paul says a really similar thing in 2 Corinthians:

He says that as a believer, he is:

(2 Corinthians 6:10) – NIV

sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

God doesn’t want you to deny or suppress your feelings in your hard time…

Grief is grief…it’s hard.

But we remember God is still God…and His promises to us are still true.

Some of you know our Administrative Assistant on our staff, Bekah Arrasmith.

A week and a half ago, she went to a funeral of a young woman she knew in college

Just over 2 weeks ago, this young woman was helping a family friend do some housework, but she happened to faint.

And as she fell, she cut her neck, and lost a significant amount of blood

She was raced to the ER, but she didn’t make it.

She was also 32 weeks pregnant with a little girl.

The doctors were able to deliver this precious little girl

And she hung on for 3 days, but they were unable to save her.

And so a few days later, at the celebration of life service…the husband of this young woman, who had just lost his wife (and his daughter) stood up and spoke.

I was able to watch him speak, as they put the service on facebook…it’s now been seen 11 thousand times.

And this young man, 25 years old, stands up, and begins by reading his wife’s favorite Psalm and continues to talk of, of course his grief, but more importantly God’s goodness.

Because even though his wife, and his baby are gone from this earth, they are with God…free from pain…in complete joy.

The Christian is the one who is grieves and rejoices…at the same time.


I said at the beginning, that one of the reasons, (certainly not the only reason), hard times come, is that they are tests from God.

This is pretty contrary to modern thinking.

I find many Christians today think God’s only job is to prevent bad things from happening in their life.

I think they’d be shocked to find that sometimes God Himself has purposefully brought or allowed difficult things into their life

If that feels hard for you to wrap your head around…let’s jump ahead to 1 Peter chapter 4, and then come back to our next verse:

(1 Peter 4:19) – NIV

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

Sometimes God is allowing hard times (because we believe God is sovereign, He’s not surprised by hard times)

An example of God allowing hard times would be the case of Job in the Old Testament

God allows the devil to bring suffering into Job’s life

But sometimes God himself actually brings hard times into your life, as in the case of Joseph in the book of Genesis…

where it was God’s plan all along to have Joseph be sold into slavery in Egypt, be thrown in jail, and eventually rise to power there, and thus save his family.

Now, knowing that, look to our next verse in today’s passage

(1 Peter 1:7) – NIV - LEAVE UP FOR 1 MINUTE

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

According to His Word…God has either sent, or allowed, some trials (not all trials) into your life…

But why would God ever do that?

What does it say?

It says… “So that the genuineness of your faith might be proven.

Listen, at some point, if He hasn’t already, God is going to test your faith.

He’s going to put you through (what we’ll get to in a second), the Refiner’s fire.

And when you get to the other side…you’re going to find what your faith is actually made of.

And that’s why He’s testing it…it’s not because He doesn’t know what it’s made of.

No, it’s that…none of us really know what our faith is made of…until the fire comes.

I think of when America joined the second world war.

Young men everywhere bragged to their girlfriends about how brave they were and how’d they walk into battle without fear.

Well, would they?

Probably not.

But only actually getting to real battle would reveal how brave they were or not.

Their words didn’t mean a whole lot.

The truth is…none of us really know how strong our faith is…until God walks us through the fire of his testing.

Jesus makes the same point is his famous parable of the sower

He talks about seeds (his words) hitting different types of soils (people)

And some of his words fell on rocky ground

(Luke 8:13) – NIV

Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

The fire will reveal what’s really there.

And sometimes it will tragically reveal that a person never had genuine faith at all


But more often than not, for a lot of us, our hard times reveal something else.

Look at verse 7 again…especially the middle section.

(1 Peter 1:7) – NIV - LEAVE UP FOR 1 MINUTE

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

What is Peter saying?

He’s saying that real, genuine faith is more valuable than even gold.

And gold, even though it will one day perish, can be refined by fire.

And if gold is tested by fire, so will you be…because your faith is of greater worth than even gold.

Now, maybe if this was 1849, we’d all have a good understanding of how gold is refined, but since that isn’t the case, let me explain a little bit.

If you discovered gold in your back yard…firstly, think of our building fund.

But seriously, if you found gold in your back yard…it wouldn’t be 100% pure.

It would have impurities in it…things that aren’t gold.

And you would want to get the impurities out, so you could have pure gold.

So, it would be put through the “refiner’s fire” if you will.

And when your piece of gold is placed in the fire, the impurities will begin to separate from the gold, and they rise up, so the goldsmith can just skim them off.

And Peter is using this metaphor because God does a really similar thing with our faith when it is tested by trials.

The refiner’s fire will cause the impurities in your faith to rise to the surface.

Until we’re tested by the fire, we can say that we trust and believe in Jesus, but there are just some things we trust more.

For some of us it’s our status…or our career

For others, it’s how you look

For others, it’s your reputation or what people think of you

But when God, the refiner of our faith, brings His fire, He reveals the idolatry in the gold of our faith.

For example, if you’ve based your entire identity in having “good kids”

And then your teenager rebels…and rebels hard…like to the point that everybody knows about it.

And that puts you into a tailspin…

And you become unreasonably depressed given the situation.

Yes, it’s difficult, but it feels life-crushing to you.

What’s God doing?

God is, in your fire, showing you something deeper about yourself.

He’s showing you that you haven’t been placing your identity…fully…in Him.

That instead, you’ve been feeling good about you are because of how moral your kids have been.

And that’s an idol.

It’s an impurity in your faith.

And the fire is raising that impurity to the surface…so you can see it

I see this happen a lot when financial difficulties come.

Most people in suburbia would never admit to a money idol.

But when they lose money…for so many suburbanites, it’s as if their world caves in.

And God is, in the fire, showing them that they really do have a money idol.

But see, they never would have discovered that “impurity” in their faith, if God had not brought them through the pain of “His Refiner’s” fire first.

Our trials reveal to us where we don’t really trust God.

And so if you’re in a trial right now…and it’s painful.

I want you tonight, to get alone in a room, get on your knees, and ask God why it’s so painful.

Beyond the obvious that is…

Ask Him, “God, what are you showing me here? What impurities of faith are you bringing up the surface in the midst of this fire?”

And here’s the deal…I don’t want you to miss this.

If God, because of the fire, gets me to drop these impurities in my faith…to drop my idols…

Then I want to thank Him for the fire.

Because the dropping of idols is going to vastly and deeply increase my faith in Jesus.

I’m going to be more devoted to Him than ever.

And this is yet another reason why people usually grow in the valleys, not on the mountains.

Their faith becomes purer in the valley

Stop and think for a moment about who is writing these words.

This is in 1 Peter.

So it’s written by Peter, the disciple.

What’s His story?

The night before Jesus died, during the last supper, Jesus announced that his disciples will all fall away on account of him

But Peter, in his pride, said, “Jesus, even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

But this like is the soldier bragging about what he will be like in battle, before he’s actually been to battle.

Well, Jesus is arrested, and during his trial, Peter encountered his own trial of life.

Peter was asked 3 times if He was a follower of Jesus, and 3 times Peter denied Jesus

Look as Luke describes the last denial:

(Luke 22:59-62) – NIV

59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter was tested in the fire and failed.

And yet…and yet…that failure is not the end of Peter.

And if you’ve been feeling lately that your faith is failing in the fire…it doesn’t have to be the end of you either

It just means that God is revealing to you that you’ve been putting your anchor on the wrong thing.

God revealed to Peter that night…that he had put his anchor solely on his own pride.

Remember, He said, “I, I of all people, would never deny you!”

But the refining fire of that trial…brought the impurity of Peter’s pride right up the surface for him

And because of that, he humbled himself, and God in his grace restored Him

And Peter becomes one of the most powerful leaders in the early church.

God is always doing something in your trial.

If you look, if you seek Him, you’ll be amazed what He can do through fire.


And it’s in the fire, that we often reflect him best.

This is the very end of verse 7 now…this is the praise, glory, and honor part

When you remove the impurities out of faith, it shines bright...

Just like gold after its been refined by the fire.

I’m not sure we understand this, or want to understand this, but Christians usually shine the brightest, when they suffer.

If we tell the world that God is good because we just got a new job or had a healthy baby or got a new house…but I’m not sure the world really takes notice of God because of those things.

But when we say that God is good, in the fire…they can’t take their eyes off of us.

Like Nebuchadnezzar staring at Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fire…

They see something else.

The rest of the world gets angry in the fire, or curses God, or denies Him, or drowns in their sorrow.

And it’s because of that, there is no stronger testimony then…than a Christian in the fire, praising God

Grieving, yet rejoicing in trust & hope

I’m sure, many of you are familiar at this point with the story of Amber Guyger

An off-duty police officer in Dallas who came home from work one night…and believing that she found an intruder inside her apartment, shot & killed the man inside.

However, turns out, she had, while not thinking, gotten off on the wrong floor, and accidentally entered into the wrong apartment…exactly one floor above hers.

And the man she shot, was actually her neighbor directly above her, a 26-year old Christian named Botham.

The story was headline news, just for that…

But what was most remarkable about this story is what happened after she was sentenced to jail.

The brother of the man who was killed was allowed to make a statement in court to the woman who killed his brother, and this is what he said:

(Botham Jean Brother Forgives Amber Guyger)

You can’t do that if you don’t know Jesus Christ.

You can’t do that without being able to live in both grief and joy simultaneously

You can’t give out forgiveness LIKE THAT unless you understand how deep the forgiveness is that Jesus has given you.

It’s IN THE FIRE that our testimony is the strongest.

That video has been watched millions upon millions of times of times

Think about that.


Because genuine faith in God…faith that has gone through the fire…and proven itself true…is worth more than Gold.

And as Peter says in verse 7, it will bring praise and glory.

May each of us pray this week, “Lord, when you bring the Refiner’s fire on my life, and you show me the impurities of my faith…”

“Lord, while you do it, may I glorify you in the fire.”

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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