The apostle Peter said: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation….For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Peter 4:12-13, 17-19).
As we will see God tests his people extensively to see if what is wrought in them is real and can stand in the day of battle. He tests us for our own good so that we can stand in His Kingdom. Although not immediately joyful testing is necessary as we change from one nature to another and are born again into a realm of spirit.
Hebrews says: “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.” [Job 5:17; Prov 3:11]. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; … for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may partake of His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb 12:5-11).
We find as God deals with us that each and every test is perfect for our salvation and adoption as Sons (Romans 8:15). When we come completely under His wing He is in control both in blessings and scourging. In response we both endure and rejoice. Sufferings are important to God in His overall plan. The sufferings we are experiencing are to make up for sufferings not personally experienced by Christ. Hebrews 2:10-11 says: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation [Christ] through sufferings”. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them [us] brethren”.
Note that the sufferings are instrumental in God’s purpose of bringing many Sons to glory, Sons with a like nature as Christ. Romans 8:29-340 makes this purpose clear. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified”. And: “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, WE WILL BE LIKE HIM, BECAUSE WE WILL SEE HIM JUST AS HE IS” (1 John 3:2). The scourging and fiery trials bring us to the point of Perfection where we see Him as he is because we have become like Him.
You experience the work of the cross in your life. You go through it from the day you accept the Lord. When you see a group of people worshiping the Lord with that violence in their spirits, you don’t realize what it has taken to bring that about. God deals with you; then He blesses you and deals with you again. After He revives you, He blesses you some more and deals with you some more and then revives you again. He uses a process similar to that used for tempering steel. First it is heated to a high temperature. Next it is cooled rapidly by plunging it into water or other liquid. Then it is heated again and cooled again. God uses this same process of hot and cold with you. He sends fiery trials to try you, to try your faith, until it seems as though some strange thing had happened to you.
No matter what criticism comes against you, do not defend yourself. Simply humble yourself before the Lord. When you are under fiery trials, your best action is to dig a foxhole of humility and crawl into it. If you humble yourself before the Lord, the bullets will whiz overhead; but if you rear up arrogantly and say that you do not deserve this, you can be shot down. Walk humbly before God. He will bless you in the foxhole of humility (Stevens, John Robert: This Week, Volume VIII (1977). North Hollywood, CA. : Living Word Publications, 1987, S. 797).
Each Son’s work is tested by fire. Paul says in I Corinthians 3:10-15: “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire”.
One chief concern as the Sons go through the Lord’s testing is that unbelief springs up. Under testing you may begin to feel the Lord has forgotten you. As you pray to a brass heaven, where your prayers are not answered, you are sure of it. The dealings of the Lord may involve physical suffering (see The Book of Job). Yet the period of testings need not affect your walk with God as you realize they are working an eternal glory into you. As Paul said: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).