Lesson 3—Faith under Fire
Scripture: 1 Peter 1:6-8
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of the biblical truth concerning the hope which comes from real faith that produces joy even during difficult times.
(Verse 6) Peter, very early in his writing, addresses the most urgent needs of the believers. He understands their great need and he desires to encourage them in the midst of their extreme difficulties. Many of these believers are facing horrific persecution and attack because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They are living “faith under fire.”
To help us understand the situation these believers found themselves in, picture the scene from a war movie where allied forces find themselves penned down while taking on heavy enemy fire. The allied forces are fighting back with great resistance but the enemy intensifies the attack. Mortar shells are exploding all around; shrapnel is flying; bullets are whizzing by, and smoke is so thick breathing is almost impossible. The allied forces desperately call for reinforcements and support. They need help, and they need it now!
Peter is writing to believers who desperately need help and encouragement. These believers are taking on enemy fire. Persecution is real, isolation is lonely, and to face this without hope is impossible. Peter writes to these believers offering real hope.
“In this you greatly rejoice.” “In this” refers back to the preceding verses (3-5) which direct the believers to three great truths which become a message of faith, hope and encouragement. The believers are urged to remember
the “living hope”
“an inheritance incorruptible”
they are “kept by the power of God.”
These truths became the reinforcement the believers needed.
Horatio G. Spafford penned it this way—
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come
Let this blest assurance control
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
To be able to say, “It is well with my soul,” brings joy in the midst of troubled times. Faith that looks beyond life’s circumstances brings a blessed hope. The end result of this blessed hope is the producing of joy in the believer’s life.
Trials come in various ways and from all directions. The Greek word literally means “multicolored.” Trials are multicolored. Peter writes that intense trials bring heaviness or grief into the mind and heart. This heaviness or grief is the result of the pressures and pains felt by the believer. Peter wants his readers to understand the overall brevity of these trials, “though now for a little while.” The believer can find comfort and strength knowing these trials last only “a little while.”
➢ What does “a little while” mean to you?
➢ Discuss how “a little while” may have a different meaning depending on your position to the trial.
Inside the trial looking out
Outside the trial looking in
➢ What are some trials that true believers face today?
➢ Think about some of your greatest trials. How did you response to them?
➢ What did you learn from your trials that you can use to help others as they face their own trials?
“Genuineness” – Greek word “dokimos.” Peter reminds his readers of the first century process of making pottery. The pottery was baked to give it strength. The process of baking and heating the pots caused some to crack. These cracks were flaws that could only be detected by the application of intense heat. The pottery that withstood the process was marked with the exact Greek word Peter uses here in reference to the believers’ faith “genuine.”
Warren Wiersbe said, “A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. A person who abandons their faith when the going gets tough is only proving that they had no faith.”
➢ How does Peter’s teaching of the genuineness of your faith and how it is produced through the fire conflict with some modern day philosophies on suffering?
(Verse 7) “may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
To form a useful object, raw gold must be cast into a mold. For that to occur, the solid ore must be heated to a temperature of 1900 degrees Fahrenheit. Under the intense heat, the gold melts and the impurities rise to the surface. The impurities are then skimmed off by the goldsmith who determines the genuineness of the gold by whether or not he can see his reflection in it. Only then is the gold ready for the cast to be molded and therefore made useful. Peter wants his readers to understand that, while they are being tested in the fire, the end result is that they bear the reflection of the glory and beauty of the Lord.
➢ Read Job 23:10. How does this passage relate to today’s Scripture in 1 Peter?
(Verse 8) “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you will rejoice.” As true believers we are told we should walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Peter encourages his readers with the truth that they can trust the power and find encouragement in the unseen hand of God at work in their lives. Perhaps behind Peter’s words was his own recollection of something he had witnessed several years earlier (John 20:24-29). Peter is encouraging his readers to find encouragement from their faith in Jesus Christ. His presence and His power are at work in them.
As I write the closing of today’s lesson, I think back to 1990 when Cindy and I had the privilege of going to the Holy Land (Israel). It was an amazing trip. I remember my anxiousness and excitement as we made each stop on our 8-day tour to see firsthand those traditional sights, such as the Sea of Galilee, Mount Carmel, Jordan River, Jerusalem and Golgotha. It was truly more than my mind could take in. On the last day of our trip, personal testimonies were being shared. One after another, individuals shared how seeing these places had reinforced and increased their faith. Our tour guide, Joseph, quietly and humbly listened to each testimony. After everyone had spoken, in broken but very understandable English, he politely quoted John 20:29, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Thank you, Joseph, for reminding me of one of life’s greatest lessons.
Questions for Life Focus
When did you last find strength in the unseen hand of God at work in your life?
What has been some of the greatest challenges to your faith?
How did these challenges offer opportunity for your faith to grow?
Did you reflect Jesus Christ during those times?
Testify to the work God has done in your life as a result of witnessing how others react and respond to their own trials.