Brother John, I have been helped much with your connecting faith as the key to accessing the Spirit for filling. I would love to hear you at some point explain the trial of our faith and patience (endurance), and the salvation of our souls. (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9) I ask this, not from a merely academic standpoint. But I am in the midst of a heart-wrenching trial where everything circumstantially would contradict the character and purpose of God. I want God to achieve what He wants through this in myself and others. I would appreciate your insight.
Thank you for this question that goes deep with your own circumstances. We will look at both passages for light, though I’m sure there is more to each portion than I will address here. Those who have walked the dark pathway before you could shed more light, but for now, we will consider the passages in the order you mentioned.
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [various trials]; Knowing this, that the trying [testing] of your faith worketh patience [enduring abiding]. But let patience [enduring abiding] have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
The phrase knowing this refers to experiential knowledge, but the real key here is the word patience—the translation of a compound Greek word. The first portion of the compound has to do with “endurance.” The second is the noun form of a verb often translated “abide” (the picturesque term for faith or dependence). Together, the two thoughts signify “enduring abiding.” The point is that the testing of your faith produces enduring faith.
We are to count it all joy when faith regarding a given matter gets tested since we know from experience that the trial will produce enduring faith. Faith is not a work; faith depends on the worker—God. Thus, faith pleases God (Heb. 11:6). Faith is not wishful thinking but rather dependence on God (without the benefit of sight) based on His word (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:1). Biblical faith must always have this proper basis. When the Spirit guides you into truth for a given matter, you have the foundation for faith based on God’s word (John 16:13-14; Rom. 10:17).
Jesus reminds us that, “… man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Speaking after forty days of fasting and being tempted of the devil, He refers back to Israel in the wilderness and God’s promise to provide for His people. God did provide for them and did so miraculously, but the issue was whether they would trust in Him when there was yet no sight of provision. The timing tested their faith. Deuteronomy 8:3 explains, “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.” God had promised provision but allowed His people to hunger to prove whether they would find nourishment in Him before physical food was delivered. Their hungering with nothing in sight but God’s promise was a test of faith.
Trials hurt. They are real. To count it all joy is not a matter of senseless wishful thinking that denies the reality of the trial. It is that fruit-of-the-Spirit joy in your spirit from knowing that Jesus, the Lord of sacrifice, is with you in the trial, indwelling you to bring life out of death for He is the Prince of life. Jesus, in His humanity, endured the greatest test of faith, and He is in you to enable you through your test of faith. By Him who conquered, we are more than conquerors. As we look to Jesus, our sufficiency, we find that “in Him” and “by Him” are real when the test of faith pressures us.
It is my understanding that in its making, more expensive chinaware is passed through the fire twice. And how precious are you in His sight? We are to rejoice in trials because we know we are in the Master’s hands—hands that have perfect purpose in what He allows and that faithfully hold regardless of a trial’s origin or instigation. Yet, because the nature of being in a trial prevents us from seeing the end purpose, we need wisdom.
James continues in verse 5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not [without reproach]; and it shall be given him.” Though we may apply this verse anytime we need wisdom, the context suggests it is especially when we need wisdom during a test of faith. We can ask God for divine wisdom in the midst of trial and the Lord of promises affirms that the wisdom needed shall be given.
All of this is so our faith endures and we are perfected in our continued dependence on God. Faith under fire, yet enduring, perhaps brings more glory to God than the fulfillment of faith when faith becomes sight. Faith pleases God, yet at the same time, faith accesses God as the indwelling Spirit imparts to us the life of Christ, whose life animates ours so that we live, yet not us, but Christ lives in us, to us, and through us. It is this divinely-animated human living that will pass the testing of the Judgment Seat.
This thought brings us to the second referenced passage and the meaning of “the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:6-9
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [various trials]: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
The beginning of your faith is the salvation of your spirit. Through faith in Jesus as Savior, your spirit (the old man) dies with Christ and is raised with Him the new man (Rom. 6:3-5; Eph. 4:24). This refers to regeneration. Your spirit is regenerated with God’s divine nature (Eph. 4:24; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 John 3:9). Your spirit is completely saved. It must be for it now consists of God’s divine nature implanted in you.
This means there is a past tense to salvation—your spirit has been regenerated. There is also a future tense to salvation—your body will be glorified. Because you are born again/saved, your body will be saved when mortality puts on immortality (1 Cor. 15:53). And there is also a present tense to salvation—your soul is being sanctified. The culmination of this aspect of salvation is the end of your faith.
Sanctification progresses as we walk by faith and thus grow in grace. It is hindered through unbelief, but as we walk by faith, we access the life stream of Jesus living in us so that individually “I live, yet not I, but Christ” lives “by faith.” The “not I, but Christ” moments of reality will pass the testing of the Judgment Seat fires and rewards will be given accordingly (1 Cor. 3:11-15; 2 Cor. 5:9-10). However, all of our “not Christ, but I” moments of earthly reality (even those with appealing outward appearances) will burn up.
Much more could be addressed, but it is my understanding that this making manifest, this revealing at the Judgment Seat of Christ, refers to the salvation or deliverance of our souls. The soul-life animated by Christ’s life (gold, silver, and precious stones) will be exchanged for rewards. The soul-life energized by the flesh (wood, hay, and stubble) will be burned. In other words, the faith-life which accesses the Christ-life will be revealed and rewarded at the Judgment Seat.
Combining the two passages, the various trials that test our faith are opportunities for enduring faith that truly pleases God and will be revealed when our soul-life is made manifest. The tests of faith are more precious than gold because they are opportunities to love Jesus when you trust but cannot see. By believing, you may experience joy unspeakable. It appears from the passage in 1 Peter that greater trials afford opportunities for greater joy found in Jesus alone.
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