Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though for 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 tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. I Peter 1:3-7
Faith, like gold must be tested to see if it is genuine or fake. Gold is measured and categorized by carats signifying the purity of the metal; 24 carat being the purest rated at 99.9%, but also being the softest because the impurities that made it hard were burned out.
When we become Christians we recieve a measure of faith and begin our journey with Jesus learning to trust Him being led by His Spirit. Anyone who has made the trip of faith learns quickly that God doesn't always show up when we want Him to, and waiting on Him produces patience and endurance. In the time spent waiting comes the trial and the question: will He come?
The word of God says that faith is a substance or a physical material, something tangible and not some mystical thing floating in outer space, in other words it is real. Faith is believing God's word and trusting Him to honor that word and fulfil His promise to us. Trust is the key to any relationship and trusting God is no different, we learn to trust by asking, waiting and recieving the promise in His timing and perfect will.
An example of waiting on the promise is like asking your father for the keys to the car so you can take your friends for a ride, the problem being, you are only ten years old, the father on the other hand is ultimately going to give you the keys, but you will have to attend drivers ed and be sixteen years of age before you recieve them. Waiting on the promise and fulfilment of His word is a time of suffering and the temptation to obtain something by your own means, something we have all done, but in most cases didn't produce the result we were looking for.
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
SUFFERING IN FAITH
For to this you were called because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps. I Peter 2:21
It is doubtful that we will ever suffer the pain and the brutal circumstances that were inflicted on the Lord Jesus Christ, but it is inevitable that we will suffer in faith believing God's promises standing in hope that our petition will be answered. As Christ was tempted in the wilderness by the Devil so we too will be tempted to give in to our weaknesses and submit to the enemy's lies.
When Lazarus fell sick to the point of death, his sisters, Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus, their close friend to come and pray for him. Jesus responded that He would indeed come, but took His time getting there and in fact, was too late because His friend had already succumned to his illness. In the process of time Martha and Mary were in agony over their brother's condition, wavering in their faith and yet still hoping for a miracle.
Jesus finally arrived on the scene and even missed the funeral, all hope was lost and the family was already in mourning for their loved one. But that was not yet the end nor was hope lost because God had other plans for Lazarus. Jesus was overcome and wept but I think more so because of their unbelief and because He didn't want them grieving and in pain although this was their firery trail.
Jesus stood at the entrance of the tomb with everyone's eyes fixed on Him and said, "Lazarus, come forth!" and so he did, bound in grave clothes, he came up out of the tomb to the amazement of all. An impossible situation turned into an opportunity for God to recieve glory for keeping His promise and fulfilling His word to His people. There was not a dry eye nor a heart that was not touched by this powerful miracle wrought by a God that loves us even when we think we are in the midst of a hopeless situation.
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the firery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. I Peter 4:12,13
OBEDIENCE THROUGH SUFFERING
Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. Hebrews 5:8,9
In order for Jesus to become the perfect sacrifice for our sin and a faithful High Priest, He had to be tested and tempted in all things so that He could come to our aid when we experience the same trials. If this were not so, He could have been sacrificed at birth if He was just to be a pure offering for sin.
Even though He was God in the flesh, pure in heart with a divine character and nature, He was untested and had to experience life as we know it in order to become our Savior and Lord. It is hard to imagine that God who knows all, the creator of all life, the all seeing Creator had never experienced walking this earth in an untested human body. Even harder to fathom is the fact that God was doing something He had never done before.
Although He was tempted He learned obedience and walking in faith the same as we do, the difference being, He was the Word of God being totally confident of the promises even though He suffered waiting for the answer and at the end even questioned God about the possibility of being forsaken. As He laid down His life on the cross He became a Faithful Son to His Father as well as a faithful Savior for us in all things.
Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:17,18
LIVING BY FAITH
Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may recieve the promise.
"For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." Hebrews 10:35-38
Jesus asked the rich young ruler to step out in faith, sell his posessions and follow Him. The young man couldn't do it and went away grieved as did Jesus because of the lad's lack of trust and the fact that his riches had his heart. So it is today, many say they walk in faith but when it comes down to trusting God they waver and look to the world for their answers.
As Jesus walked on water in the night through stormy seas Peter saw Him and asked, "Lord bid me to come to you!" Jesus responded, "come," and Peter jumped out of his unbelief and actually walked on water, something that is phyiscally impossible to do in the natural. Even though he sank when he focused on his situation and the stormy seas, none the less he acomplished a miracle of faith in Jesus that to my knowledge has never been done before.
Living by faith is not just making positive confessions and railing at the Devil, naming it and claiming it, or blabing it and grabing it as many today in the "Faith movement" try and do and in most cases come away empty handed. The reason most fail is because they don't seek or know the will of God for their life, instead they go off half cocked thinking God will answer any and all of their selfish whims.
I met a woman one time that gave a $1000.00 a day for thirty days to a T.V. evangelist so that she would be obedient and prosper greatly from this act of faith, or should I say, "Stupidity!" The result was that the evangelist prospered and the woman went broke and even ended up losing her home. What a sad testimony of the Christian life, chasing after rewards and false prophets, or should I say "False profits."
Living in trust and confidence, seeking God's will in every circumstance for guidance and provision is His perfect will for our lives and will yield a faith that will eventually be as pure as 24 carat gold refined by the firery trials of life and a heart softened by obedience to His word waiting on His promise.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1,2