Friday March 11
I Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Institutes Book 3, Chapter 8, Section 4, Part a.
The next section is titled: "The cross trains us to patience and obedience." Right now, I am thinking that publishing a blog post six days a week for the entire season of lent can feel like one long exercise in patience. Calvin tells us that there is only one way to develop patience - the hard way. There are no patience pills or "ten easy steps to patience." We learn patience through our own personal suffering - through our own personal cross.
Calvin starts off like this: "The Lord has another purpose for afflicting his people: to test their patience and to instruct them to obedience." (3.8.4a)
You may be thinking: Why does God need to test our faith? Doesn't he know already?
Calvin immediately offers a clarification. He writes, "Not that they can manifest any other obedience to him except what he has given them." That is, the faith that we demonstrate in the midst of our trails is faith that God works in us by the Holy Spirit. Clearly God already knows that it is there.
He continues..."For who would say it is not expedient that the most excellent gift of patience, which the believer has received from his God, be put to use that it may be certain and manifest?" In other words, because God works the excellent gift of faith in people doesn't it make sense for it to be demonstrated and revealed.
I think that we can summarize this part of the section in this way: God uses adversity to display the excellent gift of faith in people. The display is not for his sake (as if he needs to learn something new.) It is for our sake!
When we remain steadfast in the midst of a trial, we see the beauty of God's gracious work in our lives. According to I Peter 1, our faith is more precious than gold and the display of our faith will result in praise, glory and honor for God.
From our perspective, trials are often a barrier to the thing we most desire - our comfort. From God's perspective trials are a necessary pathway to the thing that he most desires - the "tested genuineness of faith." This is more to be desired than gold!