BELOVED, DO NOT BE SURPRISED AT THE FIERY TRIAL AMONG YOU,
WHICH COMES UPON YOU FOR YOUR TESTING,
AS THOUGH SOME STRANGE THING WERE HAPPENING TO YOU
If the Master is maligned as Beelzebub, the members of His
house must fare even worse at the hands of men [Mt.10:25].
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you [Jn.15:20].
There is nothing strange, then, about Peter and John being
arrested and flogged [Acts 5:17, 18, 40] nor that Stephen was stoned
to death [Acts 7:58]. It was the same high priest and council that had
crucified their Lord that was responsible for their own afflictions.
Conformity to Christâ€™s character necessarily results in
partaking of His sufferings. The two are inseparable. All who desire
to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution [2 Tim.3:12].
Fiery trials are therefore not a strange thing but follow expectedly as a
consequence of godliness.
They arise from wicked men but are sent by the hand of God
accompanied by the Spirit of glory and of God [I Pet.4:14]. We should
not be ashamed to be reviled for the name of Christ and suffer for
uprightness [I Pet.4:16]. Men may malign and mistreat while casting
shame and slander upon the righteous. But it is no cause to be
Rather, it is cause to glory [I Pet.4:16], to rejoice [Acts 5:41],
and to be exceedingly glad [Mt.5:12]. Such response demands the
spiritual reality evident in a Paul who witnessed that he was sorrowful,
yet always rejoicing [2 Cor.6:10]. Will fiery trial turn us from the
Skin for skin, yea, all that a man has will he give for his life
[Job 2:4]. So says the adversary. What say you? What said three
young Hebrew men?
Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the
burning fiery furnace…but if not, be it known unto thee, O king,
that we will not serve thy godsâ€¦ [Dan.3:17, 18].
He is able…but if not…we will not. Their devotion did not
depend upon deliverance. Rescued or no, to them, God must be
honored, truth upheld, and faith rest unwavering. This is the
unyielding allegiance of true consecration.
God is to be glorified as God without rival or compromise
though self perish in the process. All of the workings of truth flow to
this end. It is why we are tried by fire.
It is why we exult in our tribulations. They produce
perseverance and that tested character which issues in hope [Rom.5:3-
5]. The godly quality of life resulting from enduring afflictions lends
confidence to the soul of its eventual conformity to Christâ€™s image.
That is hope; a hope born in the fire and fanned into a flame
of light by the winds of adversity. It is truth and righteousness upheld
that are the provocations to heat the furnace seven times hotter and
cast the godly therein.
Fiery trials ensue when we are unashamed of Christ and His
words in the midst of a sinful and adulterous generation [Mk.8:38].
This, no Nebuchadnezzar can endure.
Cains will arise against the Abels of the land. Pharaohs will
increase their afflictions upon the Israel of God who refuse to
compromise divine decrees. Testifying the good confession before the
Pilates of this world ushers one to Golgothaâ€™s brow, while craftsmen
of Dianaâ€™s shrines riot against gospel light
Suffering for the sake of truth embraced is the portion of the
godly in all generations [2 Tim.3:12]. Moses chose to suffer affliction
with the people of God…esteeming the reproach of Christ greater
riches than the treasure in Egypt [Heb.11:25, 26].
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they
might obtain a better resurrection [Heb.11:35]. Time would fail us
to recount the histories of the men whom, valiant for truth, the world
was not worthy of [Heb.11:36-38].
Suffice it to say that Paul kept the faith [2 Tim.4:7]. Peter and
Apostles must obey God rather than men [Acts 5:29]. John partook
of tribulation on Patmosâ€™ Isle because of the Word of God and the
testimony of Jesus [Rev.1:9]. And our Lord Jesus despised the shame
and endured a cross for the joy set before Him [Heb.12:2].
Love of truth issues in salvation of those who embrace it [2
Thess.2:10]. At the same time, though, it also issues in persecution
from those who love it not [Jn.15:19].
But something happens when we stand stalwart and
immovable. The world rises up in haste when it sees One like the Son
of God with us in the flames [Dan.3:24, 25].
A testimony is established in the furnace. But we must not
shrink from the fire if we would have Christ meet us therein. It is
there that it becomes evident to all that it is God, and not self, that we
Brethren, donâ€™t be surpirsed at the fiery ordeal among you
which comes upon you for your testing. It is no strange thing.
Suffering is our expected portion in this world, but Christ will be with
us if we stand erect when Babylonâ€™s notes compel our prostration.