googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Trial by Fire

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Trial by Fire

The Bible often speaks of God trying His people by fire (Zechariah 13:9, Malachi 3:3, 1 Peter 1:7, et al). John the Baptist promised that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3:16). “Baptize” is a Greek word meaning literally “to immerse.” So John is saying that, while he immerses in water, Jesus will immerse believers in the Holy Spirit and in fire. The trial by fire awaits all of us both in this world and the next.

When God judges by fire this accomplishes two things: 1) it burns away the impurities and 2) it makes the gold, silver, or precious stones more pure.

The impurities represent the lost: they are the chaff in Matthew 3:12, the tares in Matthew 13:40, and those branches not abiding in the Vine in John 15:6.

But the believer also faces the fire. In this life, the fire is used to refine us and make us more like Christ. It burns away the unprofitable things in our lives (the chaff) leaving only those precious things that will be our treasure. As we face trials and tribulation, we must always remember than God has a purpose for us (Romans 8:28). Though we might not see the benefit of it at the moment, a great joy awaits us when Christ appears (1 Peter 4:12-13). And after this world is passed, we face one more trial where our works are judged for our reward (1 Corinthians 3:14-15)

I’m reminded of the story of the Silversmith:

"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Malachi

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver."

She watched as sweat poured from his brow due to the intensity of the heat from the fire he sat so close to. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."

No comments: