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Tested By Fire


"6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls."
Good Morning my beloved,
Welcome to worship this Lord's day! We're so glad to have our brothers and sisters from around the world here with us today. Please know, that we continue to lift all of you up in our prayers. We would  ask that you would do the same for us. We are so grateful for those of you who have been sharing the ministry website with all of your family and friends. May God's blessing be upon each and every one of you. We pray that God's Word will reach those who desperately need to hear it, for Christ's sake and God's glory.
In spite of what Scripture teaches, there are many Christians who are living in fear of the possibility that they could lose their salvation. They have fallen victim, under the influence of teaching that says they can forfeit that salvation which God has given to them. In other words, those who are now the children of God can again become the children of Satan. Over the years, I have dealt with this issue many time throughout my ministry. Inevitably, those who teach that doctrine attempt to support their view in scripture. If it’s true, it ought to stand the test of scripture. 

The verse I have heard used most often is John 15:6, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned." And there are others, Romans 2, Matthew 10, Matthew 24 to just name a few of them, you can look those up on your own. 
However, Scripture clearly teaches salvation is forever. And, there are these warnings about abiding, remaining, enduring, continuing in God's Word. Colossians 1:21-23 says "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister." All throughout Scripture, there are numerous passages that say abide, remain, continue. 
Rather than being warnings about losing salvation, they are rather statements that those who endure, those who continue, those who persevere, those who hold fast giving evidence of being the ones who are saved. These passages are defining the nature of saving faith. In other words, Jesus is saying, "If you’re one who abides in my Word, then you’re a real disciple. If you’re one who endures, you’re going to receive your final salvation." That's the idea, you cannot lose a salvation that you never really had, can you?
These are warnings to superficial believers, to those professing to be Christians who really aren’t. If your faith is genuine, it will endure to the end, because it is kept by God, it is protected by God. We were saved by faith and we shall endure by faith, it a gift from God.
Paul say in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."
The interpretation of the text really rests on I John 2:19, "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us."
As we endure the many trials of life, God refines our faith and develops our inner strength as He prepares us for the most wondrous experience of our entire existence, our great personal encounter with Him at the end of our earthly life. Trials, as tough as they are, are meant to fortify our faith. What joy we have in the hope of salvation that we have in Jesus Christ.
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father,
Father, we thank You for Your Word for us today, for these wonderful truths, that are so greatly enriching to us. We are undeserving of such a tremendous gift. Thank you for the precious gift of enduring faith. Our hearts are filled with joy unspeakable as we await the day of Christ, when will be reality, entering into eternity, will be beyond anything we can ever imagine. Thank You for those who have recently come to saving faith, who are now on the path to final salvation. We greatly rejoice in the permanence of this great gift of grace. Thank You for the precious gift of salvation.
In Christ's name  
Today's Message: Tested By Fire

The biblical way to suffer is not to deny our pain or grief, but to have genuine joy in the Lord. In Hebrews 12:11, the author says "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."
There are times in the life of believers when our faith is weak, even true believers will have temporary struggles with their faith. Peter had the real saving faith, however, he also manifest temporary weakness and even a temporary denial when confronted at the trial of Jesus.
Like many of us, Peter’s faith had its weak moments. He experienced temporary denials. Then, that terrible lapse just before Pentecost. Peter is the one to whom we can turn for a strong testimony of persevering, in spite of having faith that is weak and being protected by God with a faith that cannot fail.   

In Acts 1, "So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
And you know something, after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, you never hear anything about a denial on the part of Peter again. Peter understood momentary lapses, however, he also understood persevering faith. He understood restoration, he understood the Lord's faithful love. Like Peter, if your faith is real, it will never completely fail.
Open your Bibles with me to I Peter chapter 1, verses 6-9. In my years of service to the Lord, I’ve faced some pretty hostile environments, but I have never faced persecution. I must admit, I find a certain energy, a conviction, and a level of boldness in those situations. It becomes an affirmation of faith for me.
Trials not only test your faith, they purify it. When you get your faith tested, it comes out purer than gold, and more precious. Rather than asking for God to protect you from trials, you should be asking Him to provide you with all the trials necessary to give you the confidence that your faith is genuine, that it's real.
I invite you to follow along with me as I read, to set the text well in our minds, as we prepare our hearts for what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. I Peter 1:6-9.  

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls."
Peter, in writing to the Christians who were scattered, they were suffering and he tells them that they are to greatly rejoice at the same time that they are distressed by various trials. He is not denying the distress, but that if he has the right perspective, he can experience genuine joy, in the midst of his pain.
Look at verse 6.  "In this you greatly rejoice." I'd like you to consider what the "this" is that we’re to rejoice in.We find the answer in verses 3 through 5, where Peter wrote; "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."
He's talking about the inheritance that’s preserved for us in heaven, our future destiny in Christ, for which we ourselves are being preserved by God. It is in this great, and glorious future that we are to rejoice! We rejoice that we’re protected by God’s power, protected through a living hope. "We rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary," if necessary what? If God determines that it's necessary, that "you have been distressed by various trials."
Peter is saying, rather than looking at the possibility of being arrested, and put in prison, tortured or being martyred and fearing that your faith would fail, he says, "You ought to greatly rejoice in these distressing trials." And, the reason is here in verse 7, "so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
Peter used the analogy of the refinement of gold deliberately, in order to help us understand what trials do for our faith. In the refinement of gold, the fire is heated up and the gold is melted. All of the traces of impurity in the gold rise to the surface and are gently and patiently skimmed away. The process is repeated several times, until the impurities are gone and the gold is pure.
Trials are different for everyone. The reason is, that the spiritual necessities for everyone is different. Because we are all at different points of our spiritual development, the Lord needs to do different things in each of our lives, therefore, our tests are according to necessity, that God Himself determines.
The way to understand trials, is that God sustains our faith not by keeping us away from trials, not by making sure our faith is never tested. He sustains our faith by means of trials. When you go through a trial and you come through the it, and your faith is strengthened, trusting the Lord, you rejoice. You rejoice because these tests prove the character of your faith. 
Look, people are not helped by these ridiculous prosperity preachers, giving them false hope and telling them lies, that "Your Best Life Is Now!" I believe that people need to know there is going to be suffering and trials will come. Trials strengthen faith and they reveal true faith. Trials are a necessity. You know, so many Christians today, question whether or not their saved, if their really a Christian. I don’t question the character of my saving faith, do you know why? Because it has withstood so many trials. At the end of those trials, my faith is strengthened. It's been tested and it endured. I've got to tell you this, I greatly rejoice in that reality!

Every time you go through a trial, you discover the true nature of your faith. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, which is the perfect result. God assures us, that in the midst of our sorrow, it is being used for a positive purpose, if we commit ourselves to Him. What greater gift is there than to have the assurance of your salvation? In my own personal experience, I have found that the more severe the trial, the stronger my faith, the more trust I have in the Lord. And, the greater the suffering,  the more powerful the testimony. God has manifested Himself in all my suffering. And, I am thoroughly convinced that He is more than capable to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
If we had nothing but favorable circumstances in our lives, our faith in God would not be nearly authentic. It's through our suffering that we come to realize that God is still there, He's with us every step of the way. And it's that realization that strengthens our faith.
However, in contrast, trials can and do destroy the faithfulness of those who have no true saving faith in Christ. One thing is certain, in life, you will be tested. God doesn't test your faith to know how much you have, He already knows that. God has big plans for you, not for this life only, but for eternity. So, sometimes He just needs to turn up the heat a bit to work out the impurities. Scripture teaches that we are to be like Jesus. However, there are things in our lives that keep that from happening, so the way God deals with them is to turn up the heat so that we’ll come out of the fire with stronger faith and more like the Christ.
In Romans 8:35, Paul said "Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"  Is there anything that could cause us to stop loving Christ?
In II Corinthians 11, Paul gives us a list of things that have not caused him to stop loving Christ. "Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, on I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." Paul is writing this from experience, he's been there. That's autobiographical. Paul’s afflictions for the gospel were painful; but comparison to eternity, they were light.
Notice how Peter goes out of his way to emphasize how temporary trials are, in verse 6. "even though now for a little while." We go through them "now for a little while," not throughout eternity. Even Jesus Christ himself was strengthened through suffering. The writer of Hebrews says God "made him perfect through suffering."
Trials never take God by surprise. I believe that Christians today need to be realistic about our experience of the refining process. We need to recognize our trials for what they are and keep them in perspective. We are protected by eternal purpose, by a living hope, divine power, trials and eternal purpose. This momentary affliction that we suffer is not to be compared with that glorious weight of glory that awaits us in His presence. I have really grown to appreciate how God knows the best trial to use to refine my faith, it has never been stronger. When you really take hold of this and finally understand, believe me, you’ll rejoice in difficulty rather than rebel against it.
Verse 8, "and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." We have a love for Christ, we are protected by undying love. Salvation is characterized not only by faith in Christ, believing in him, but loving Him.  
In John 14:15, Jesus said "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." And, in I Corinthians 16:22, the Apostle Paul said "If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed." 
If you were to characterize Christianity in its purest, truest sense, you would have to use that word "love."
The religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid pace. In 2019, 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians, down 12 percentage points over the past decade. Americans'  who worship God continued to decline last year.  I tend to believe that percentage is largely based upon those who claim they believe in Jesus, but I’m not so sure there are that many who love Him sacrificially and obediently, who worship Him faithfully. These numbers are devastating, given the fact we live in a country where we are free to worship Christ.
Consider South America, Africa, and Asia, where Christians are most at risk, being persecute, martyred for their faith in Christ, it has been growing rapidly. Yet, Christianity is reportedly the fastest growing religion in China.  Since 2015 Christians in Africa and Latin America has respectively surpassed the Christian population in Europe, where Christianity was the home for the world's largest Christian population for the past 1,000 years.
You know, you can tell a Christian because they love Christ so much, it comes out in inexpressible joy! True Christians are marked by joy. That why we sing, because we're so filled with joy. Most religions chant, in sort of a low minor key, we sing about Christ. You can come at me with distress, tribulation, persecution, nakedness, famine, and sword, and that will not change my love for Jesus Christ.  
The reason is here in verse 9, "obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." We have been given a faith that never perishes, a faith that is protected by the power of God, a faith that has a hope that never dies! A faith that is tried, tested, and proven, strengthened through trials, a faith that is designed for the fulfillment of eternal glory, "obtaining of the final salvation of your souls." What a profound truth! 
Saving faith is your final salvation. That is the result. Your initial salvation was a result of faith. The salvation which you experience now. Final salvation is nothing less than a permanent gift from God. For anyone to claim that you could lose your salvation is an outright misrepresentation of God’s grace. Because if you can lose it, you never had it to begin with with.  Because true saving faith will persevere and endure to the very end.  That is the nature of this faith. 
In Closing..
I know that some of you are facing problems, you’re in the furnace right now but faith that is not tested cannot be trusted. I know it might be difficult to believe now, but there’s a purpose behind your problems. I pray that you will listen when I tell you, that everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has not been through times of great happiness, but great affliction. And, when responded to correctly, trials can be transforming, they are truly life changing, and increase our joy in the Lord. 
Suffering often comes not because we are out of our Father’s will, but because we are in His will.
Simultaneously experiencing, sadness and joy is one of the greatest paradoxes of Christianity.
May it be so.. 

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name
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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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