The book of 1 Peter was written to first century Christians who were being heavily persecuted for their faith. The word ‘persecution’ means to be attacked for the purpose of making us run. Many of the Christians of the first century were being tempted to run: not only from those who were persecuting them; but also from the reason for their persecution. Satan was trying to tempt many of them to reason that if they were being attacked because they were Christians, maybe we shouldn’t be Christians.
Peter therefore wrote this important letter to encourage them to not turn from Christ, but to stand firm in their faith.
1 Peter 1:6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.
First of all we see that Peter reminded them that their suffering was only for a season. There is a day coming when all of our suffering will be over, and on that day, the ones who have stood firm in the faith will be the ones who will be rewarded.
James echoed this thought in his epistle. “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
Jesus also emphasized this truth in one of His seven letters to the seven churches. “Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10)
As we continue on in our study of 1 Peter we see another reason why we should seek to remain strong during times of persecution. Peter tells us that God uses persecution to reveal whether or not our Christianity is real.
1 Peter 1:7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
How we react to difficulty often reveals whether or not our faith is genuine. To help illustrate this truth, Peter refers to gold that is refined by fire. Often when gold is mined out of the ground, it contains other elements known as impurities. In order to refine the gold and make it pure, it is melted in fire. During this refining process, the gold and impurities separate from each other and thus the gold can be received while the impurities can be rejected. I have read that this process is often repeated until all the impurities are skimmed away and the refiner is finally able to see his reflection in the gold as those he was looking into a mirror.
Let’s be honest; having our faith refined isn’t pleasant. It often involves pain and suffering. In many ways, it puts our back against the wall and forces us to determine whether or not Jesus is truly our Lord and Master.
As I write these words, my mind goes to the man called Job. As many of you know, Job became the pawn in a chess match between God and Satan. Satan said that if Job was allowed to suffer, he would turn against God. God said that he wouldn’t. And so Job was put into the fire. During one extreme moment of suffering Job said, “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)
Do not lose heart my dear friend. God is refining your faith so that He may eventually see the pure reflection of Himself in you.