Faith in the Fire

Robert Wurtz II

In this you greatly rejoice, though 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 it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6–9 NKJV)

If there is one thing that is certain about our Christian faith, sooner or later it is going to be tested. God has ordained for this to be and it is as sure as the Sun rising in the morning. The writer to the Hebrews tells us that God shakes everything that can be shaken so that the things that cannot be shaken will remain (Heb. 12:27). Haggai 2:6 promises that, when it is time for the final judgment and the end of this age, God will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. All that will remain is what cannot be shaken, namely the kingdom that Christ shares with those who continue to trust in Him (IVP/NBC).

Our passage in 1 Peter 1:6-9 contains a phrase that reveals two types of faith. Peter speaks of the “genuineness of your faith” and by implication, there must likewise be a counterfeit faith. The genuine type of faith is more precious than gold, leading to the salvation of the soul. Counterfeit faith is less than worthless because it masquerades as the genuine article — soliciting the trust of all who encounter it. Like counterfeit currency that is discovered at the time of payment, counterfeit faith ends in misplaced confidence.  What a let-down!

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery 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. (1 Peter 4:12–13 NKJV)

Peter tells us to not be surprised or astounded when the fiery trial comes as though something strange is happening. As dreadful as it is, it is perfectly normal. Some of the oldest and most provoking stories in the Bible deal with sufferings and trials. God uses fiery trials for a multitude of reasons. Yet suffering is always used by our opportunistic enemy to bring doubt. Job’s wife caved in and told him to “curse God and die” when he had lost everything and was covered in boils. She failed the test — though he passed with flying colors.

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Trials are often extreme tests of faith. In fact, Peter uses a Greek word for fiery that could be translated as a furnace. We find it in Proverbs 27:21 related to the smelting of metals. What is happening? Our faith is being tested. Keep in mind that the original readers of Peter’s words were under extreme persecution. The KJV does not give the sense of the present tense as it is in the Greek (is trying you) but implies some future event (is to try you). However, Christians were already in the furnace (as it were) as Nero is said to have killed Christians for sport. This was on top of all of the ordinary trials of life that result from the fall of man (death, disease, etc.). Christians were tied to long poles, dipped in pitch, set ablaze and raised to be street lamps during the night. That was a very literal fiery trial. There were other unconscionable tortures employed as well. Most people will never experience anything so gruesome. Yet more or less we are all going to be tested in this world.

Finally, notice again what Peter says, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials…” The AV (KJV) has the rendering, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” The Holy Spirit, through Peter, wants us to know that in light of eternity the “various trials” are only a “little while” or “for a season.” When the trials finally end and we pass from this life we have all of eternity to rejoice that our faith withstood the test, purified in a furnace, resulting in the salvation of our soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peddling Secrets (Breaking Confidentiality)

Robert Wurtz II

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered (Proverbs 11:13 ESV).

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with uses flattery (Proverbs 20:19).

Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret (Proverbs 25:9 ESV).

Understanding and giving heed to these three verses from Proverbs could save you and I a lot of unnecessary grief and conflict. They have been recorded and transmitted through the ages for our instruction and benefit. Moreover, they are far-reaching in scope and apply to people of all walks of life.

It is likely that everyone has some information about themselves (whether that information is a day old or fifty years old) that they would prefer that it remain secret. Clearly, this is an ancient truth or the scriptures would not have addressed it at least three times in Proverbs alone. We all, to a greater or lesser degree, have secrets.

A simple English definition of a secret is something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown. The Hebrew word translated as secret(s) in Proverbs 11:13, 20:19, and 25:9 is sod and it means confidential speech. This word carries an emphasis on privacy (confidentiality). All three of our passages are dealing with revealing confidences.

When a person is reckless with confidential information or is willing to use it for their own purposes — that person is dangerous and is to be avoided. That is common sense — but Proverbs gives us some insights into the unfaithful people who peddle secrets.
One of those types is people who flatter you (Proverbs 20:19). The Hebrew word carries the idea of deceiving a simple-minded person. Flattery is used by so-called charming personalities to win people over to them or their cause. Understand that a smooth-talker can gain a person’s trust and thereby draw secrets from them under the guise of being a trusted confidant. A man who flatters his neighbor Spreads a net for his feet. (Proverbs 29:5 NKJV) Beware of people who flatter you — do not tell them anything confidential. Flatterers are commonly tale-bearers.

Sowing Discord with Secrets

There are ungodly people in the world who carry secrets from person to person — sowing strife and division among neighbors and relations. They tell confidential information that people have entrusted them with. How did they get the confidential information? By feigning to be the distressed person’s confidant. People trust that he/she is trustworthy in spirit and will keep the thing covered — but they are not trustworthy and they will not keep it covered. They will use the confidential information whenever they wish.

Peddlers of secrets know when people are vulnerable (distressed, upset, angry, in conflict with a friend of family member, etc.) and thereby know also that the person may (colloquially speaking) spill their guts. That is an informal way of saying that they unwisely tell all of their secrets. This is why we all need to be very careful who we reveal confidential information to. The ungodly exploit these unfair means to come to the knowledge of secrets. “Come on, you can tell me…” are usually the words of a devil.

I have known of people to throw out confidential information when trying to make a point — without revealing the person’s name. What says the scripture? Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret (Proverbs 25:9 ESV). We don’t need to break confidence in order to make a point. G.W. North offered sound advice to people who hear things in confidence, “Forget a minute after you hear it.” That way you won’t ever be tempted to use the information and break confidence.

If we are ever in a conversation with a person who says, “I could tell you some things about that person and you would _______” — we need to leave the conversation immediately. Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered (Proverbs 11:13 ESV). If a person tells you secrets about others they will surely tell others secrets about you.

Some day God is going to sort all these things out. Yet I sometimes wonder, “What could be eviler than to use confidential information against the person who entrusted you with it? What kind of person (other than a politician) goes around collecting confidential information to use against people?” Maybe this ought to be a new definition of a dirt merchant… a person who peddles peoples’ dirt.