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Divorced a LONGGGGGG time now but reasonably content...
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul had a passionate love for His Saviour. He wanted to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ in every area of life. He wanted the beauty and magnificence of His wonderful Saviour to eclipse all else. He rejoiced when the gospel of Christ was proclaimed and wanted to demonstrate that suffering for Christ, in this life, would bring greater his Saviour praise and glory.
Paul's dear desire was to magnify the Lord and enable the brilliance of the glorious gospel of Christ to shine out over this darkened, sin-sick world. He longed that those who were dead in their trespasses and sins would be attracted to Jesus, and find their great salvation in His Person and Work'. He wanted the good work God has started in the lives of those who believe, to be completed in the day of Christ, for their eternal benefit and God's greater glory.
Paul's spiritual ambition, earnest expectation, and eager hope was to enhance and elevate Christ in the heart and mind of others. He prayed that he would be emboldened to preach the gospel of God, according to the might of His great power, and Paul longed that the Lord Jesus would be glorified in his body - in thought, word, and deed - whether by the life he lived or the death that he died.
Paul's purpose and philosophy in life was to live for Christ, even when buffeted by storms, maligned by his enemies, confined to a prison cell or facing death. He had one fixed purpose in life, and one unalterable plan - to live for the glory of Christ and to preach the word of truth.
Paul was a man who knew that nothing in heaven or earth could separate him from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. He knew that his prison bars would not prevent the gospel from being spread abroad. For me to live in Christ and to die is gain was Paul's firm purpose and his fixed delight.
Paul's motivation in life was to elevate Jesus. But when he wrote these words he was incarcerated in a Roman prison cell, with the sentence of death hanging over him. "For me to live is Christ, was this man's non-negotiable future, and yet he knew that death was the gateway into the bodily presence of Christ. Even a Roman gallows could not prevent him from entering into heaven, and so he was able to conclude, "and to die is gain".
I doubt Paul would have understood the impact his letter to the Philippian Christians, and his other epistles would have, on many millions of souls, down through the centuries. Paul may have been confined to a prison cell, but his hope remained founded on Christ. And God used his night of suffering to be turned into many mornings of joy, for those who have treasured the words he wrote. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain".
Although his passion was to preach Christ crucified and to bring as many lost souls into a saving knowledge of his Lord and Saviour, Paul also knew that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord.
What freedom to be able to say that whether I live or die, Christ is mine, and whether in heaven or on earth, Christ is my portion and I am content. Living for Christ, whether in heaven-above or in the earth-beneath are both filled with great advantages - when love for our Saviour and serving Him is our sole ambition and passionate aim.
The unbeliever holds onto the things of this deteriorating world system, and death is often seen as an enemy to avoid. The future hope of fallen man is tied up with the things of this world and death is seen as the spoiler of life But the sting of death is removed for the believer, and life becomes an opportunity to serve Him - while death is the occasion to be translated into His presence and be with Him forever.
The sole aim of every Christian heart should be to glorify the Lord, and to serve Him in full abandon. A life with a passion for Christ gives rise to a life of victory, where the power of faith and the sufficiency of His grace overcomes the difficulties of life and the sting of death. When we can say with Paul, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain," we discover that a life lived for God becomes a life that is willing to die for Him - and that death is nothing more than the glorious entrance into His marvellous presence.
Loving Father thank You that I am Your child. May Your will be done in my life and may I live in a way pleasing to You. Thank You that my times are in Your hands and I pray that I may live for Christ every day of my life, knowing that to die in Him is gain. Enable me to finish the work that You have prepared for me to do and keep me through all life's difficulties, knowing that Your grace is sufficient - in Jesus' name, AMEN.
Knowing Jesus is the true beginning of wisdom!
Addendum: I don't say this in a haughty magnifying glass statement. I often wondered what my motive was for following Jesus. Most of the time in my early days it was about saving my own skin. I knew I had done wrong and my fear of the Lord's retribution was first and foremost in my mind. There are still times when I know I have done wrong that I feel that way, but now I have learned to check my deepest motive. I want people to know God as a loving God who judges fairly and wants us to be better people. He wants our walk to influence others to walk worthy of His calling. He loved us before we were even born and knew that one day we would heed his call. (Psalm 139) Walk worthy Christian because of who He is and what He has provided for us.
Because of Jesus,
February 06, 2020
Because you are sons(and daughters), God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
What a wonder of divine love and grace that we, who were once at enmity with God, have been so favoured by the Father, that we should be called 'sons', "and because we are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"
The 'birth certificate' that confirms this amazing truth is the Person of the Holy Spirit, living in the heart of all who believe. It is He Who bears inner witness that we are sons of God. It is the Holy Spirit of God's own dear Son, Who has been sent into our heart, Who communes with us and cries affectionately.. Abba! Father!,
The privilege of the permanently, indwelling Holy Spirit began at Pentecost. He takes up residence in the body of every born-again believer, the moment he trusts in Christ. His presence within our heart, is both the guarantee and proof that we have been made 'sons of God' and joint-heirs with Christ.
Paul had been explaining to the Galatians... that following the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the status of believers changed from that of an underage child, with a promise of a future inheritance... to a mature son, who has received his inheritance from his father - and the Holy Spirit has been sent into our heart, as the confirmation of this glorious truth.
Before the cross, believers were looking forward with expectation to a promise that was yet to come. The Law that governed their lives was etched on stone tablets, that only permitted a distant, external relationship with God, which was carried out in an earthly Temple, through a human mediator - either a prophet or priest appointed by God.
Following Christ's ascension into heaven, it is grace that governs our lives. It is not the Law that was written on stone, that determines how we should live. It is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus that presides in our hearts. It is the indwelling Spirit of His Son in our heart Who communes with us and guides us into all truth.
Paul describes those living under the Law as underage children, who had not yet achieved their maturity nor received their promised inheritance. This included all pre-cross believers, like Elijah, Daniel, Isaiah, and John the Baptist. However, those who are living under grace have a new, living, ongoing and intimate relationship with the Father, through the indwelling Spirit. This includes post-cross believers like Peter, James, and John - it includes Christians like you and me. The proof of sonship is the permanently, indwelling Holy Spirit of Christ - without Whom we would tremble as we approach the Father, but Who cries in our heart - Abba, Father.
While pre-cross believers lived under the Mosaic Law, which governed their external relationship with the Father and placed many limitations on their relationship with Him... post-cross Christians are led by the indwelling Spirit. We are governed by a higher law - a heavenly Law - a limitless law - the Spirit’s Law of life in Christ Jesus, which set us all free from the limited law of sin and of death, that condemns every sinner. We are motivated by a law that is not limited by the flesh but one that is empowered by the Spirit of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What incredible assurance to know that we are accepted by God - in Christ and made sons, through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. He guides us into all truth through His word and empowers us with His sufficient strength. What amazing love that He should pour out the wrath that we so justly deserve upon His dearly Beloved Son. He was despised, rejected and cruelly crucified, on our account. He died to satisfy God's righteous justice. His blood paid the price for sin, so that we who believe, could be elevated into a position of son-ship and be awarded joint heir-ship with Christ - by grace through faith.
Though once children of wrath and disobedience, all who have trusted Christ for Salvation have been positioned in Him, as children of His love. And by His grace, we have been given the additional gift, and guarantee, of God's indwelling Holy Spirit, Who took up permanent residence within our hearts, the moment that we trusted in Christ for Salvation.
No name or title for the eternal, almighty Creator and Sustainer of heaven and earth, could be more profoundly personal nor intensely intimate than that of, Abba - dearly loved Father. Such language of sweet endearment is reserved for the closest of unions, and such was the life experience of the Lord Jesus.. and He is our pattern for life. He is our example to follow.
Throughout His earthly life, Jesus showed us how to maintain close, adult fellowship with the Father, and throughout our earthly walk we are to walk as Christ walked and to live as Christ lived - in sweet, mature communion, with Abba, our dearly loved Father.
Jesus set aside His glory for a season, and through humble, prayerful obedience, was enlivened, empowered and animated by the same Holy Spirit of the Father, Who dwells in us. Throughout His life, Jesus only did what He saw His Father doing and only said what His Father told Him - and we are to pattern our life on His life. Like Him, we will be strengthened and enlivened through His Spirit through the same, humble, prayerful obedience.
It is not trying to copy what Jesus did that gives us this intimacy, but living as Christ lived. It is living in mature, intimate fellowship with the Father. For it is as we maintain spirit to Spirit communion - the human spirit with Christ's Spirit - through the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit, that our hearts can whisper in steadfast prayer, joyful praise and intimate communion - Abba, my Father.
The world is divided and divisive because Satan is still the prince and power of the air. Still we have a hope that burns within us because God the Son now has the keys to death and hell! We are no longer condemned in Christ the Bible says, not because we are so wonderful-we all have bad days, but because of HIM! What HE accomplished on that cross has given us not only hope but a PROMISE of redemption. We are forever sealed by the Holy Spirit of God unto the Day of Redemption. Believer, trust in what your spirit cries out for that we can say "Abba, Father" with an honest voice that awaits eternity with Him!
Abba, my loving Father, I realize I am standing on the holiest of ground. Thank You for doing such great things for me. I desire to develop the depth of fellowship with You that is demonstrated through the life of Jesus, and pray that through the power of Your indwelling Holy Spirit, my human spirit and soul will submit in humble obedience to His guidance - so that my inner spirit may commune with You, in godly intimacy... through Your Holy Spirit, this I ask in Jesus' name. AMEN.
Knowing Jesus is the beginning of wisdom!
See you next blog,
So You Need Eye-Witnesses Before You Will Believe?
January 27, 2020
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
It was the centurion, who cried out, 'truly this was the Son of God', when he saw the earthquake, the darkness, and all that took place at Calvary, on that pivotal point in history. Surely the life of the centurion who uttered these earth-shattering words, by divine revelation, was never the same again. Surely, for all who can look to the Lord Jesus in His death and resurrection and declare, truly this is the Son of God - this is the Saviour of the world, life can never, ever be the same again.
No doubt this man was witness to the reviling actions of the Jews and the distress of the women, as Christ was led as a lamb to the slaughter. No doubt he also heard the precious pardon awarded to the dying thief; the words of grace offered to His mother; His anguished cry when He took the full weight of the world's sin upon His sinless shoulders and surely this same centurion heard Christ's triumphant proclamation of His forever finished work - IT IS FINISHED - Tetelestai.
What a unique catalogue of events took place in that brief moment of time. Mockers scorned, women wept and the whole heavenly host gazed on in stunned silence and awestruck wonder, as the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the Father, fulfilled the final letter-of-the-Law to satisfy the holy requirements of a thrice-holy God.
The earth was shaken to its very foundation, the sun was blackened as thick darkness shrouded the bloody scene of 'life-giving death'. The veil of the temple was torn through, from top to bottom, and the Son of God, Who had drained the bitter cup to its dregs, placed Himself into His Father's keeping, willingly giving up His life for all.
This centurion had no doubt been an eye-witness to scores of crucifixions, for this was the long, slow and painful death that had been introduced by Rome to ensure that the convicted criminal, under Roman jurisdiction, suffered the most excruciating agony in payment for their wicked deeds.
This man had no doubt been present at the cruel beating of Christ and witnessed the point when the sun was darkened for three hours and a great and mighty earthquake announced heaven's verdict on the sinful actions of sinful man - as the wrath of God was poured out on the sinless Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.
Surely the life of that Centurion, who was witness to Christ's redemptive payment for his sin, and the sins of every member of the fallen human race - including your sin and mine, was never the same after he watched Jesus on the cross, and witnessed the earthquake, the darkness and the many things that were done to our Lord.
And so, an unnamed centurion, who was simply carrying out his soldierly duty, who was an eye-witness to this unique happening on that decisive day in the history of humanity, was caused to announce in tones... that would reverberate down through the corridors of time: truly this was the Son of God.
Surely the life of the centurion who witnessed his Saviour dying on that Tree of crucifixion, and who uttered those earth-shattering words by divine revelation, was never, ever the same again. Truly this IS the Son of God.
Loving Father, as I reflect on the awesome scene that took place when the Lord Jesus suffered and died for me, I bless Your name for revealing to me the gospel of grace and for drawing me into Your family as Your child. It seems that in this day and age we need multiple witnesses to everything. We forget the Bible, your word to us, has multiple witnesses in the men and women who walked with Jesus. May I never become so 'familiar' with this scene that I forget its true significance. I worship before Your throne and praise Your holy name, for You truly are my most wonderful Saviour and I love You - in Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.
Knowing Jesus is the beginning of Wisdom!
See you next blog,
Trusting God In The Dark
February 26, 2019
I would imagine that everyone goes through a dark time in their life. Some may even call out to God in the hope of being delivered immediately from their circumstances. Often times the situation may even seem to get worse and we begin to feel forgotten or worse, forsaken by God. The Psalmist here takes his great sorrow to God and he even goes so far as to say "Consider my plight Lord lest I sleep the sleep of death!
Dire circumstances and it seems all is dark and there is no forthcoming light, but the beginning of miracle is being conceived. Angry at the enemy of his soul, David stiffens his resolve to trust the Lord says "Lest the enemy of soul should finally say, as the enemy hoped to say with Job, I have prevailed over him. Lest my foes rejoice in my sad condition...nevertheless I will trust in your steadfast love Oh God! The greatest gift God has given us through His Son is salvation when we do finally pass from all the turmoil and triumphs of this life if we rejoice in His great salvation and stand steadfast when darkness surrounds us. Friends we will all face dark circumstances, some beyond terrible, but that does not change God's mind about us. His love is steadfast if we will simply reach out for it. Stand therefore!
Trusting God in the Dark
by Alistair Begg
Everyone experiences disappointment or sadness to some degree. In Psalm 13, David demonstrated what it means to trust God in tough times. Feeling forgotten, forsaken, sorrowful, and subdued, David cried out for God’s consideration and illumination. As he prayed, his perspective changed, and he was able to rejoice—even though his circumstances remained the same. Alistair Begg teaches that when we face difficult times, we must resist self-pity, trusting that God knows what’s best for us and can use even our hard experiences for good.
How Long, O Lord?
TO THE CHOIRMASTER. A PSALM OF DAVID.
1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.
The Fiery Trials Of Life
Have you ever been accused of things you really didn't do but someone made people believe you did? Now those that were told of your supposed wrong want nothing to do with you and you hurt inside desperately. Have you ever lost something or someone precious to you and you felt nothing but angry at the world, at God, because you just didn't deserve it? Now you desperately wish those things or that person could be restored to you. Have you ever been fired unjustly? The panic of not knowing what will happen next sets in or how you will feed your family, or will you be able to recoup your loses? Finally and just as important, have you ever done something really wrong and thought you got away with it?
I've been in these scenarios and most people have. There is something I have got to tell you...something so important the rest of your life depends on you hearing me. GOD IS LIKE A REFINING FIRE! Things happen to us for seemingly no reason. Or we do things we deeply regret but hope that somehow there is no price to pay. There, inside those thoughts, inside those afflictions come the knowledge to help you understand that GOD IS LIKE A REFINING FIRE! We can't hide. You don't even have to believe in God for afflictions to come or for payday on the way for sins committed. God is no respecter of persons no matter how close you are to Him or how far away you try to distance yourself. We would love to blame the devil every time something goes wrong, but what about our sinful human nature that craves to please ourselves? Jesus said that we do battle on three fronts, the world, the flesh, and the devil. Where is your affliction coming from? What is the purpose of that affliction? I have good news for you:
Malachi 2: 17-3:6 You have wearied the LORD with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. By saying, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?" "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty. "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." (NIV)
It does not say in verse 2 that he is like a forest fire, or like an incinerator's fire. It says that he is like a refiner's fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. But verse 6 says, "I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed—you are not destroyed."
A Word of Warning and a Word of Hope
He is a refiner's fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner's fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner's fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner's fire.
It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper "fear and trembling" in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it's a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don't fool around with it.
But it does say, he is like a REFINER'S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.
Four Questions About This Text
Now, to unfold this text, let me ask four questions, and point you to their answers in the Scripture in the time we have.
Who is like a refiner's fire?
Why must he be like a refiner's fire?
How can we experience his fire as refining and not consuming?
What is life like in the refiner's fire?
1. Who Is Like a Refiner's Fire?
Verse 3 gives the answer. As I read it, look for three individuals.
Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
Three Individuals Mentioned
The first individual mentioned is "I"—"Behold, I send . . . " This "I" is identified at the end of the verse: "Says the Lord of hosts." The speaker is Jehovah, God the Father.
The second individual mentioned is Jehovah's messenger who prepares the way. "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me." Who is this? Well the New Testament quotes this very verse to identify John the Baptist, the one who came to prepare the way for Christ (Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27).
But you don't have to read in from the New Testament that this is a kind of prophet whom God would raise up in the last day. It says in Malachi 4:5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." So the first messenger mentioned in 3:1 that God will send to prepare his way is a kind of Elijah or one like Elijah. That is why Luke 1:17 says that John the Baptist went before Jesus in the Spirit and the power of Elijah.
The third individual mentioned in verse 1 is "the Lord who comes to his temple." "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight."
The Identity of the Third Individual
This is another messenger, different from the first. Who is this person? Three things point to the divine Son of God and Messiah.
He is called "Lord"—a term that Malachi would not apply to Elijah or John the Baptist. This person is someone greater.
The temple is said to belong to him: He will suddenly come to "HIS temple." Of whom could you say that he is the owner of the temple of God?
This person seems to be almost identical with Jehovah, not only because Jehovah's temple is his temple, but also because he seems to take the place of the word "me" in the first half of the verse. It says, "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before ME . . . " But then he switches without any difficulty and instead of saying, "And I will suddenly come to my temple," he says, "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple." It looks as though "me"—Jehovah—is virtually interchangeable with this other person called the Lord, who owns the temple of God.
So I conclude that the messenger of the covenant, the Lord, the owner of the temple of God, is none other than the Son of God, who is with God and is God, and who came into the world and made himself known to us personally in Jesus Christ.
So when verse 2 goes on to say, "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears, for he is like a refiner's fire," I conclude that it is talking about the Son of God who came to us in Jesus Christ.
2. Why Must He Be Like a Refiner's Fire?
The answer is implied in the word itself. He must be a like a refiner's because we need to be refined.
We Need to Be Refined
We were created in the image of God with the potential to reverence God and trust him and obey him and glorify him, but we were born in iniquity and in sin did our mothers conceive us. We are shot through with the impurity of rebellion and unbelief, and we fall short of God's glory again and again.
You can prove this to yourself in many ways. For example, you can notice how readily your heart inclines to those things that will show your strengths to other people, and how resistant your heart is to communion with God in solitude.
So we are impure by nature and by practice. But God will have no alloys in heaven. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." And yet he will have someone in heaven. He will have a redeemed people. His banquet hall will be full. And therefore he must be a refiner's fire. If he were only a forest fire, heaven would be empty. If he were only an incinerating fire, heaven would be empty. And if he were no fire, heaven would be empty.
Why God Won't Abandon Impure People Like Us
But how do we know heaven will not be empty? Or to put it another way, how do we know that God will not simply abandon impure people like us? We don't deserve salvation? Why are we not simply consumed? Why does Christ come as a refiner's fire and not a forest fire?
Verse 6 gives the answer? "For I the Lord do not change; therefore, you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." But by itself that doesn't make sense. What if God were changelessly bent on being a forest fire? What if he were changeless in unrelenting wrath? What sort of changelessness is it that guarantees that we are not consumed?
It is covenant-keeping changelessness. According to verse 1 the Lord comes as "the messenger of the covenant." The reason Jesus is a refiner's fire and not a forest fire is because God made a covenant. And Jesus is the emissary of that covenant. He confirms it and seals it with his blood. So his blood is called in Hebrews 13:20, "the blood of the everlasting covenant."
The book of Malachi began with a statement of how the covenant began. "'I have loved you,' says the Lord. But you say, 'How hast thou loved us?' 'Is not Esau Jacob's brother?' says the LORD. 'Yet I have loved Jacob!'" (1:2). This is what never changes—the free and sovereign choice of God to save sinners. "'I have loved you,' says the Lord . . . 'And I the Lord do not change. Therefore you are not consumed.'" Therefore, Jesus is a refiner's fire and not a forest fire.
3. How Can We Experience His Fire as Refining and Not Consuming?
Verse 5 makes it clear that when God comes, not everyone will be refined. Some will be consumed.
Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.
This is not the work of refinement, but the final judgment of condemnation. It is ever clearer in 4:1,
For behold, the day comes burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.
So when the Lord comes, some are refined and some are consumed. How can we be sure to experience the fire of God as refining and not consuming?
What the Answer Cannot Be
Notice very clearly what the answer cannot be! The answer cannot be: get rid of your own sin. If you got rid of your own sin, you would need no refining. Refining is for sinners! You can't answer the question, How do I qualify to get refined? by saying, Get rid of your sin! That's what refining does—it starts to burn up your sin? But how, then, does a sinner qualify to have his sin burned up? If it takes the merciful fire of God to destroy the rebellion of sin, what can a man do to have that mercy?
The Answer of the Whole Bible
And the answer of the whole Bible is: trust in the purifying mercy God! Or to put it the way Malachi puts it again and again: fear God—which means mainly fear to dishonor him with unbelief. Fear the irreverence of distrust. Fear the impulse to jump out of the refining fire of mercy into the forest fire of judgment because it looks cooler. Trust the goodness of God. Believe that his ways are the ways to infinite joy. Don't doubt his expertise as a Refiner.
He knows the time for joy, and, truly,
Will send it when He sees it meet;
When He has tried and purged thee duly,
And finds thee free from all deceit.
He comes to thee all unaware,
And makes thee own his loving care.
The way to experience the fire of Christ as refining and not consuming is to trust his promise to bring us through the fire to endless joy. Salvation is by grace through faith in the purifying mercy of God.
4. What Is Life Like in the Refiner's Fire?
The most important thing to say is that it is a life of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction. "I the Lord do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob!" Which simply means that life in the refiner's fire is a life of trust in the unchanging, purifying love of God.
And perhaps the next most important thing to say is that there is no painless path to heaven. Why? Because Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." And it is no more possible to become pure painlessly than it is to be burned painlessly. Purity comes through the refining fire. And the fire has two forms: one is the fire of affliction and the other is the fire of intentional self-denial.
The Fire of Affliction
We see the first fire, for example, in
1 Peter 1:6–7, "Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
James 1:2–4,"Count it all joy, my brethren when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
Hebrews 12:5–10, 14, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord . . . for the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives . . . If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children . . . he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness . . . Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
The Fire of Intentional Self-Denial
And the other form of purifying fire is the fire of intentional self-denial. We see it for example in
Matthew 5:29–30, "If your right eye causes you to sin pluck it out . . . and if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away."
1 Corinthians 9:27, "I pommel my body and subdue it."
Romans 8:13, "If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live."
Unshakable Trust in God's Purifying Fire
What is life like in the refiner's fire?
More than anything else it is the unshakable trust that all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.
And on the path to purity and heaven the other truth is this: no pain, no gain.
Both things are true: the Lord is like a refiner's fire; and a refiner's fire is a fire.
Pastor John Piper preached the sermon He Is Like a Refiner's Fire. One of the most powerful sermons I have ever read next to Dwight L Moody's Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God. I recommend that people who are going through fiery trials take heed to understand that GOD IS A REFINER'S FIRE, BUT IT IS FOR OUR GOOD NOT OUR DESTRUCTION!
See you next blog,