By Spencer D Gear
I. I Peter 1:6-7 (NIV):
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed .
II. Scripture Introduction
It was about July A.D. 64 and the great fire had broken out in Rome and destroyed much of that great city. The city looked like Cuta, Bali, or the World Trade Centre aftermath. The city was blackened by hundreds of buildings burnt to the ground. It is said that thousands of homes were destroyed, leaving thousands of people homeless.
History says that Emperor Nero lit the fire to destroy the shanties and rebuild marble palaces and other monuments – to establish a name for himself.
Nero looked over the city and enjoyed watching it burning.
The people of Rome were furious and were ready to overthrow him. Nero looked for a scapegoat to blame for the fire and the Christians got the reputation from him. There were rumours that this new sect, called Christians, were cannibals as they met in houses and were supposed to be drinking somebody’s blood and eating his body at their “love feasts” where they greeted one another with a “holy kiss” and it was alleged they engaged in sexual orgies. Christians were under suspicion.
Many people didn’t believe this, but others believed it, about the Christians, but Nero blamed them. Christians were lambasted with the reputation for this terrible crime of burning down Rome.
During this time Christians were tarred and burned as torches to light up Nero’s gardens. They were thrown to the lions, tied up in leather bags and thrown into the water. When the leather bags shrank, the Christians were squeezed to death. Nero was a brute in his torture of Christians in the A.D. 60s.
The Christians scattered to avoid the persecution.
It was during this time in Rome that the Apostle Peter wrote this first letter to “God’s elect” (the Christians) who were “strangers in the world” and “scattered.” Where were they scattered to? In the region that we now know as Turkey – Asia Minor.
First Peter begins:
“. . .To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood” (I Peter 1b-2a NIV)
So we have this magnificent letter known as The First Letter of Peter. It was almost unanimously accepted in the early church as from the Apostle Peter.
At the close of the letter (5:13), Peter says he wrote it from Babylon. There are some who say he meant the literal Babylon on the Euphrates River, but most scholars are of the view that he was using the term that from common among Christians of the first century, and was referring to Rome – the city of sexual promiscuity, idolatry and the evil of Babylon.
Apostle Peter probably wrote this letter from the city of Rome in the mid-60s A.D. He wrote it to mostly Gentile Christians in Asia Minor, known as Turkey today.
Peter wrote to encourage these believers who were facing some incredible difficulties.
If you suffer from difficulties of any kind, including suffering, I urge you to read the book of First Peter.
Are you wondering what God is up to in today’s world of terrorism, tensions and all kinds of pressures – and worse is likely to come – here is a letter that is packed with ways that Christians ought to respond. It was written to people facing the kinds of terror, suffering and disease that we can identify with.
III. Background to these verses
In this message, we will address two primary areas that affect all of us. Don’t chuck it in when the going gets tough in the Christian life. Why?
First, There is a wonderful attitude or disposition about all of life that the Christian is uniquely qualified to have in abundance. What is it and how do you get it? and
Second: God has an incredible way of turning trash into treasure in the life of every Christian.
A. In Reader’s Digest (October 1997)
There was an article called, “The Global War on Christians.”  In it we are told of the persecution around that world against Christians. It states that “an estimated 200 million to 250 million Christians are at risk in countries where such incidents occur.” 
Countries such as China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, the Sudan in Africa, Saudi Arabia, etc. According to this article, the “two most implacable foes of Christianity” and the main causes of persecution are “Muslim militants”  and “Communist oppressors.” 
I’ll mention just two examples:
“In Pakistan, Munir Khokher was wounded by a gunshot when he tried to stop the destruction of a Christian cemetery by Muslim mobs.” 
In Xinjiang Province, China, “police burst in [to a house church] and found 17 worshippers. When five women admitted being the leaders, they were detained, beaten and tortured.” 
There is “a vast sea of victims–men, women and children who have been tortured, imprisoned and executed [in 1997]. Their crime? They are Christians.” 
But we in the Western church don’t seem to know much about this (unless we receive material from Brother Andrew’s “Open Doors” organisation or Richard Wurmbrand’s ministry, “Voice of the Martyrs.”) We need to know what’s happening to our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world so that we can pray for them and support as the Lord enables.
B. Perhaps you can’t identify with this opposition.
A Christian friend of mine is a Christian counsellor in another city in Qld. and he tells me that the opposition and antagonism to him as a Christian counsellor seems to be increasing. He says there is a new wave of anti-Christian persecution in that city, here in Queensland.
Jesus said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). Paul to Timothy said, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12).
For you it might be the difficulties you face personally:
- life-threatening persecution may still come to Australia;
- for you it may be children who rebel;
- a spouse who leaves and divorces you;
- pain, sickness & death in the family;
[My wife, Desley, (as of 2006) has had 22 years of polycythemia (abnormal growth of red blood cells)—shocking migraines, dull and dizzy head daily, always tired and yet running the family and taking care of her 95-year-old father.]
- suffering and trials are part of this life.
TO THE SUFFERING, THE PERSECUTED, PETER WROTE WITH SOME INCREDIBLE INSTRUCTIONS here in the first chapter of First Peter.
C. To the church who were “strangers in the world” and “scattered” through persecution (1:1), Peter writes. Just listen to some of the things these believers were experiencing in Asia Minor. Some Christians around the world are experiencing these things now. These are phrases taken from I Peter (NIV):
· You are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God” (2:9) who “are being built into a spiritual house” (2:5) BUT. . .
· “suffering all kinds of trials” (1:6);
· among the pagans “they accuse you of doing wrong” (2:12);
· Slaves are to even submit themselves to masters who are “harsh” (2:18). Peter goes on to teach them that “it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering” (2:19);
· “suffering for doing good and you endure” (2:20); “Even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed” (3:14);
· “Those who suffer according to God’s will” (4:19).
· other Christians throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering (5:9); but this suffering is only for a little while (5:10). 
Suffering, trials, persecution, discipline are not God’s way of saying, “I’ve had enough of you and your ways; I’m going to abandon you.” Rather, discipline is God’s loving way of turning trash into treasure in your life.
C.S. Lewisonce said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” 
Yet, 14 years after making that statement, Lewis said: “Time after time, when [God] seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture.” 
These were not the words of an atheist or a sceptic trying to cast doubt on the Scriptures and shake somebody’s faith in God. They come from C.S. Lewis, Christian writer and one of the foremost defenders of the Christian faith. He was grieving the loss of his wife from cancer. Lewis did not marry until late in life.
You and I know there have been times when we would not listen to God and God had to do something to get our attention. God does that with trials. He can use even severe discipline to get our attention so that we will listen.
Let’s stop for a moment and apply this to yourself.
Please think of the difficulties in your life right now. Why is God doing it or allowing it? Does he have something against you? Is it punishment? Does God have something better in store for you? Let’s get this very clear. God does not send trials and suffering to your life to play with you like a cat does with a mouse. What could God be up to in your life and mine by the trials we go through?
D. Why is the Book of I Peter in the canon of Scripture?
The positive thinkers would say this is a most negative book. They do not want to hear the message of this book. In their error, they want to speak only positive affirmations.
Yet I Peter 5:12 says: “I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”
1. They were suffering persecution and trials and he wrote to encourage them.
This is a letter of hope to those who are tempted to chuck it in when the going gets tough. He encourages them to endure, to holiness, to exemplary conduct towards each other and towards the pagans, to direct their minds to their future inheritance “that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you” (1:4).
2. Also, I Peter is written to “testify” of “the true grace of God.”
Perhaps these scatter, suffering believers in Asia Minor were doubting the grace of God because of the severe trials they were going through. Peter testifies that the grace of God for salvation came with trials and suffering.
Remember what Paul said to the Philippians (2:12-13): “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” God was working within the Philippians; God’s work is seen in Peter’s audience of persecuted Christians. And God is working out your salvation and mine–in the midst of trails.
3. A third reason I Peter is in the Bible, according to 5:12, is to encourage us not to chuck it in, but to “stand firm/fast” in God’s grace.
In spite of persecution, personal pain, suffering and trials, the slander of non-Christians–Peter says to them and to us. Don’t chuck it in. Stand firm.
Under the inspiration of the Spirit, Peter, in 5:8 reminds us where some of the trials come from: “Your enemy (adversary) the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
The devil prowls around looking for disillusioned sheep who are wandering from the fold, who are vulnerable – because of the suffering they are experiencing.
- the devil accuses God to people.
Accusations like: Look at all the trials, suffering and pain you are going through. How crazy you are to serve such a God
who is doing this to you. You must be joking when you say he is a good God! Sigmund Freud was right: the religious have a mental problem.
The devil loves to pull down your view of God.
There is always the danger you will throw in the towel, call it quits and commit apostasy if you listen to the devil’s accusations and not to God’s word.
To counter all these phoney accusations, Peter teaches us to resist the devil, stand your ground, strong in the grace of God–in the midst of trials.
I’ve been having some light-headed experiences of dizziness over the last few months. I’ve been thinking it is stress related to my work and have had CAT scans, brain wave tracings, seen a neurologist, etc. But in a recent e-mail from my son, Paul, he wrote this: “I don’t mean to go over the top, Dad, but I know the devil doesn’t want you to be doing what you are doing. Remember his strategies.” How timely this reminder was for me. I thank the LORD for a godly 30-year-old son. The devil does not make you do everything, but he certainly is a deceptive, accusing person in the life of the Christian. But Jesus is the victor. We need to live in that victory that was obtained at Golgotha.
As long as Jesus allows us to be on earth, trials will be our lot; the devil will be our accuser throughout life.
E. What is God doing in your lives?
I Peter 2:5 says that God is building “you” (plural) into a “spiritual house.” That’s His goal for the church. How does he do it?
In this passage we are considering (vv. 6-7), Peter encourages us, exhorts us, teaches us: READ VV. 6-7.
To all of us, God says through Peter:
IV. DON’T CHUCK IT IN BECAUSE GOD IS TURNING TRASH INTO TREASURE IN YOUR LIFE (vv. 6-7)
If God is going to turn junk into gold, He uses two core principles. By these principles, God takes what is displeasing to Him and makes you what He wants you to be.
The two principles are found in the contrasts of vv. 6-7:
v. 6. “In this you greatly rejoice” BUT you may have “to suffer grief.” The contrast is: Rejoicing in the midst of grief.
v. 6. You will experience “all kinds of trials” BUT
v. 8. You “are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Or as the KJV puts it, “ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” The contrast: Trials vs. joy – but this is the Christian life.
CORE PRINCIPLE NO. 1:
CHRISTIANS ARE PEOPLE WHO ARE TO EXPERIENCE UNSPEAKABLE JOY
A. Changing trash into treasure requires a joyous disposition.
Please understand that I did not say, “Turning trash into treasure requires a happy disposition.” There’s a great deal of difference between joy and happiness. These two words, “rejoice” and “joy” come from the same Greek root word, charis.
a. What is joy?
My wife, Desley, uses a detergent to get out stains and deep dirt, called “Bio-Joy.” I understand the idea behind such a name: you will experience joy when dirty clothes become clean–thanks to the miracle working Bio-Joy. But that is not what the Bible means by “joy”. We need to be fundamentally clear on this:
(1) Joy is not an option. You are commanded to rejoice.
Phil 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice.” This is not just an idea that we can think about. It is a practical joy that all Christians are commanded to develop. The imperative is that we are to be joyous people. So it must be possible, even for some like me who are rather serious people.
Perhaps it would be helpful if we briefly looked at what joy is not. 
(2) First, joy is not the same as fun and playing games
You can have fun and still not find joy. People around us in droves are pursuing pleasure and fun in sex, illicit drugs, drink, gadgets, entertainment, travelling–especially here in the affluent West, but it is clear they don’t have that deep seated joy.
You can know the joy of the Lord and have lots of fun. Read the book of Philippians and you’ll find Paul was in prison, expecting to die. It was no fun. But he had lots of joy. Philippians is the book of joy.
These Christians Peter was writing to had severe trials, suffering and persecution, yet they had “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”
(3) Second, joy is not the same as being the life of the party.
That’s part of being an extrovert. You can have a bouncy temperament but have no joy. A Christian may have a face that is thin, bony looking and like a drawn-out coffee pot, but he or she can have joy beyond measure.
What then is joy?
On the evening that Jesus was betrayed and arrested, perhaps only 12 hours before his crucifixion–he knew the horrors that were facing him.
According to John 15:11 he says, “I have told you this [that is, that obedience will keep you in my love] so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.”
Joy was his at that moment, but the circumstances were far from carefree and happy.
Paul could have joy with the threat of being killed.
Here in I Peter 1: 6, Peter commands:
“In this you greatly rejoice.”
Here we have the clue to what joy is and where it comes from. When he says, “in this,” he is referring back to something he has already said. Your joy comes from this:
o Your salvation.
v. 2, you have been chosen by God for eternal life;
v. 3, you have a new birth, a living hope;
v. 4, your inheritance is nothing like what a wealthy person leaves behind for his children. Your inheritance will never perish, spoil or fade. It is kept in heaven for you.
v. 5. This salvation, even though you experience it now with enormous benefits, it will be yours fully when Jesus Christ is revealed when he comes again.
o J.I. Packer defines it well: “Joy covers the entire spectrum of what may be called the rapturous, ranging from the extreme achings of ecstasy to the quiet thrill of contentment… Joy is a condition that is experienced, but it is more than a feeling; it is primarily a state of mind… A state of the whole [person] in which thought and feeling combine to produce total euphoria.”  It is a deep contentment when you are in love with Jesus and nothing–not even suffering, trials, persecution or death–can take it away.
It flows from your relationship with Jesus and knowing who you are as a believer. You rejoice in the exhilarating knowledge of being Christ’s child. You possess salvation and eternal life as Christ’s gift. You can’t earn it. You accept it. Joy flows from this source. I can’t put it into words that are adequate enough. It’s the joy of relationship, not circumstances.
“R.A. Torrey was one of the great Bible teachers [at the turn of the 20th century] and [was] fonder of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles… He and Mrs Torrey went through a time of great heartache when their twelve-year-old daughter was accidentally killed.
“The funeral was held on a gloomy, miserable, rainy day. They stood around the grave and watched as the body of their little girl was put away. As they turned away, Mrs Torrey said, `I’m so glad that Elizabeth is with the Lord, and not in that box.’
“But even knowing this to be true, their hearts were broken. Dr. Torrey said that the next day, as he was walking down the street, the whole thing broke anew–the loneliness of the years ahead without her presence, the heartbreak of an empty house, and all the other implications of her death.
“He was so burdened by this that he looked to the Lord for help. He said, `And just then, this fountain, the Holy Spirit that I had in my heart, broke forth with such power as I think I had never experienced before, and it was the most joyful moment I have ever known in my life!
“Oh how wonderful is the joy of the Holy [Spirit]! It is an unspeakable glorious thing to have your joy not in things about you, not even in your most dearly loved friends, but to have within you a fountain ever springing up, springing up, springing up, always springing up  days in every year, springing up under all circumstances unto everlasting life.” 
Do you know this kind of joy as the constant reality in your life? If not, there is only one way to receive it: repent, fall on your face before God, and be reconciled with Jesus. Do you want joy? The Scriptures command you to have it. Will you seek and experience this “joy unspeakable and full of glory”?
Then you will discover that while you live in this depraved and fallen world, life will not be a “joy ride,” but it can become a “joy road” through your response to God. 
Core Principle No. 1 for changing trash to treasure. You are commanded to have the joy of the Lord. It must be yours.
CORE PRINCIPLE NO. 2 FOR TURNING THE TRASH IN YOUR LIFE INTO TREASURE: GOD SENDS ALL KINDS OF TRIALS YOUR WAY WITH A PURPOSE IN VIEW.
The classic case is Job. At the end of Job we read (42:11-12): “All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over [get this] all the trouble the Lord had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring. The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.”
We have the benefit that Job didn’t have. We have the Word of God that even tells us in Job chapter 1 that God used Satan to afflict Job. Will he do any more or less with us? Without a doubt, God can send trials our way.
Remember Joseph who was badly treated and sent to Egypt by his brothers? When Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt, he said, “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen. 45:8).
Then at the end of Genesis, Joseph was able to say to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (50:19-20).
This is the Romans 8:28 principle, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
God turned trash into treasure in Joseph’s life, through the trials of sending him into Egypt. Again, God sends trials to you, brother and sister, to turn trash into treasure.
Here in 1 Peter 1:6-7, we are given some fundamental steps in this principle of God using trials to turn junk into gold:
1. Refining gold by fire is used as an illustration of what God does in our lives (v. 7).
To purify gold, you boil it and the impurities rise to the surface to be skimmed off.
2. Your faith is tested, purified by trials.
The Bible is quite the opposite of the health, wealth and prosperity doctrines that are proclaimed in many churches. God makes no promise to make you financially wealthy. A leading Australian pastor has written a book, You Need More Money. This seems to side-track us from core issues of life. The true biblical teaching is:
v. 6 says that you will:
- suffer grief through
- all kinds of trials
Don’t try to second-guess God as to what trials he sends your way. Every bit of pain, difficulty, trials, suffering, persecution, that God sends to you is to turn trash into treasure in your life.
This testing time that comes to all of us will cause us to “suffer grief.” It will be emotionally and physically painful. The grief and hurt are real. That’s why Paul to the Romans (12:15) says we are “to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” Gal. 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.”
However, never forget that, according to 2 Cor. 1:3-4, God is “the God of all comfort who comforts us in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
God comforts us directly. But he expects the body of Christ to come alongside of us and offer comfort during our trials.
Why does God do it?
3. That your faith “may be proved genuine” (v. 7).
There is no room for fakes in the Kingdom of God. God tests the genuineness of your faith by sending you trials.
The wheat and the tares (look-alike-wheat) will grow together until harvest time. Christians and fake-Christians will be sorted out when Jesus comes again. But the Lord tells us that some sorting out is done on earth–by testing what kind of stuff your faith is made of by sending you all kinds of trials.
Changing trash to treasure through trials is God’s message throughout the N.T. Read about it in: Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4; Hebrews 12:7-11; 2 Cor. 1:3-7.
4. What will be the ultimate result in our lives? What is God doing through the trials He sends you?
I Peter 1:7. Trials may “result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed (at his second coming).”
For you, the praise will be, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
The glory will be the glory which was Christ’s before the world began and which he gives to the chosen/elect. To all believers Jesus said, “I have given them the glory that you (Father) gave me that they may be one as we are one” (John 17:22).
The honour will be the crown of righteousness given to the faithful who have endured.
Bishop John Taylor, a well-known bishop in the past in England, as a student, planned to attend the famous Mildmay Conference at the time when it was very influential.
Just before that time, he injured his knee and had to rest up in bed. At that time, he lay in bed and began to read through the Book of Romans. He received such a blessing that he prayed in faith, “Lord, if this be the result of a bruised knee, please give me a broken leg.” 
If you are experiencing difficulties right now, how can God turn trash into treasure for you?
Principle No. 1: You are commanded to have the joy of the Lord. This is the disposition from God that enables you to endure the trials, knowing that they are God-sent or God-allowed.
Principle No. 2: God uses trials to test our faith to see if it is genuine or not.
There’s a country song that Johnny Cash sang years ago. It says, “I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’ll be a diamond some day.”
Thank God for the trials he sends — and seek joy.
Don’t chuck it in because God is turning trash into treasure in your life.
Closing Hymn: “Because He lives” (252 Wesleyan)
Other suitable hymns/songs for the service:
It is well with my soul (262, Wesleyan)
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms (267, Wesleyan)
He lives (Wesleyan 250)
Rejoice in the Lord always [Scripture in Song, Vol. 1:81]
God is so good (Scripture in Song, Vol. 1:121)
Joy is a flag (Scripture in Song, Vol. 2: 218)
2. Based on the introduction to the message, “The Message of First Peter,” Ray C. Stedman, http://www.pbc.org/dp/stedman/adventure/0261.html [cited 27 November 2002].
3. Ralph Kinney Bennett ,“The Global War on Christians,” The Readers’ Digest, October, 1997, pp. 104-109.
4. Ibid., p. 105.
5. Ibid., p. 106.
6. Ibid., p. 107.
7. Ibid., p. 105.
8. Ibid., p. 108.
10. Other sufferings/trials emphasised: you are called to suffering because Christ suffered, leaving you an example to follow in His steps (2:21); people speaking maliciously against their good behaviour (3:16); “painful trial you are suffering” and they “participate in the sufferings of Christ” (4:12, 13); insulted because of the name of Christ (4:14); “Cast all your anxiety on him” (5:7).
11. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain. New York: Macmillan, 1962, p. 93, in Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask. Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1990, p. 68.
12. C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed. New York: Bantam Books, Inc., 1976, p. 35, in Geisler & Brooks, p. 59.
13. The points about what joy is not, are taken from J.I. Packer, Laid-Back Religion? Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987, p. 98f.
14. Ibid., pp. 100-101, emphasis added.
15. In Michael P. Green (Ed.), Illustrations for Biblical Preaching. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1989, #1295, p. 349-50.
16. Packer, p. 93
17. Ibid., #17, p. 2
Copyright (c) 2007 Spencer D. Gear. 14 October 2015.