Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
1) Man's Outward Trials.
A) Mankind In General:
It is obvious, from the overall testimony of Scripture, from beginning to ending, man’s lot on this earth is full of trials, troubles, afflictions, sufferings. Every since Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden, the curse of sin has affected all of our lives. The furnace of affliction has affected all of us.
Psalms 90:3, 5-10 Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth. For we are consumed by Thine anger, and by Thy wrath are we troubled. Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in Thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Job 5:7 Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
Job 14:1 Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.
B) The Christian’s Trials:
Another principle comes through loud and clear from the pages of the God’s Word: the Christian is not exempt from trials. Even those that have been born again through personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will face this furnace of affliction at various times throughout their lives. The way of the Cross is not a rose-strewn pathway, despite what some modern religious philosophers and teachers like to teach. Our problems in life do not end the moment we come to Christ – though it is true that those who are saved have their Heavenly Father working out all things according to His perfect will and plan for their lives, which includes conforming them to the image of His Son. (See Romans 8:28-29)
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Isaiah 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
John Bunyan stated,
“A Christian man is seldom long at ease,
When one trouble’s gone another doth him seize.”
2) The Christian's Trials Outweigh Those Of The Lost.
I believe this is a principle that is often overlooked and is one reason we are told to count the cost. Like Daniel’s three friends in the midst of the burning fiery furnace, the Christian’s furnace of affliction has often been heated seven times hotter than the furnace of the world.
1 Corinthians 15:16-19 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
I have actually had a Christian associate declare that I was presenting false teaching when I discussed with him the above passage of Scripture (and after he had read my first study in this series, As Silver Is Tried). Even after explaining what Paul meant here, he still would not believe me. Later I found out he had bought into the Prosperity Gospel hook, line, and sinker. While I do not believe it is wrong to be optimistic, I do think that we should remove our rose-coloured glasses and accept what the Bible teaches, instead of what we would like it to say!
If all the faithful child of God had to look forward in this life was the afflictions and trials they daily faced, they would be most miserable indeed! If there was no forgiveness of sins offered through the death, burial, and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ, there would be no hope indeed, no hope of entering Heaven (all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and God cannot look upon iniquity – see Isaiah 64:6 and Habakkuk 1:13), and no real purpose for our being set apart from the rest of the ungodly world! Please read this whole section so you do not misunderstand where I am going with this line of thinking.
1 Corinthians 15:29-32 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
As Paul stated above, if this life was all we had then the Christian’s life would be most miserable in comparison with that of the lost. What trials does the Christian bear that the lost do not?
Facing death to proclaim their faith and be baptized (identified) with Christ
Dying to our self daily, crucifying the flesh and resisting the pleasures of sin
Bearing the reproach of Christ, suffering for the sake of righteousness
Endless, wearisome battles with false teachers, apostates; spiritual warfare
Being chastised by the Lord when we walk in sin
Being pruned and purged so we are useful to the Master and bear more fruit
There is a saying that there is a scarlet thread that runs all throughout Scripture – referring to the redemption provided through the blood of Christ. In a similar vein, there is another thread, albeit a dark one, running throughout the Bible: the thread of sufferings and trials for true believers. We see one end of this thread in the book of Genesis, from the death of Abel, to the sufferings of Joseph; it continues on through time to the testing of Job, and the Exodus from Egypt; down further through the corridors of time to the exiles in Assyria and Babylon, and the desecrating of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes; further still to the New Testament church struggling through dire persecutions, on to the tribulation believers facing the Antichrist; and finally, the end of the thread is in sight in the book of Revelation, when we see Jesus returning to conquer the nations of the world and begin His Millenial reign.
Just think how much easier the Apostles’ lives would have been if they were living for themselves, rather than for the Lord. Take Paul’s life, for example:
2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
But this life is not all there is! There is Heaven awaiting those who are saved, and rewards for those who are faithful in serving Jesus Christ! If you are a child of God, then you have eternal life and the love of Christ which nothing can separate you from.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Though the furnace of affliction that the Christian faces has been heated seven times hotter, the Lord Jesus Christ still walks with us in the midst of the flames. After all has been said and done, in the light of eternity, I believe the child of God will be able to share the testimony of these three Hebrew men that the fire did no lasting harm to them. Truly, our Heavenly Father only allows into our lives what is in accordance with His perfect will. Like the hymn writer stated, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well with my soul.”
Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
3) The Outcome Of The Christian's Trials.
Malachi 3:2-3 But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
Job 23:8-10 Behold, I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: On the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him: He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him: But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
"… all precious things have to be tried. You never saw a precious thing yet which did not have a trial. The diamond must be cut; and hard cutting that poor jewel has; were it capable of feeling pain, nothing would be more fretted and worried about, than that diamond. Gold, too, must be tried; it cannot be used as it is dug up from the mine, or in grains as it is found in the rivers; it must pass through the crucible and have the dross taken away. Silver must be tried. In fact all things that are of any value must endure the fire. It is the law of nature. Solomon tells us so in the 17th chapter of Proverbs, the 3rd verse. He says, 'The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold.' If you were nothing but tin, there would be no need of the 'fining-pot' for you; but it is simply because you are valuable that you must be tried." (Charles Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit, Volume 1, page 484.)
4) The Christian’s Outlook In Their Trials.
A) Your Refining:
1 Peter 1:6-7 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 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:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
B) Your Reminder:
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
C) Your Rejoicing:
James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
D) Your Reward:
Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.
E) Your Redeemer's Return:
Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
F) Your Response:
Revelation 3:15-18 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
5) Will You Be Outcast?
The Lord rejects those who reject Him and His Word, who reject the salvation and forgiveness of sins that He offers. Reprobate means rejected. Dross is the worthless part of the metal, the impurities that are cast aside.
Jeremiah 6:30 Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them.
2 Timothy 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
Ezekiel 22:17-22 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, the house of Israel is to Me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so I will gather you in Mine anger and in My fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of My wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out My fury upon you.
Don't be an outcast. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God! (Hebrews 10:31) The hands of judgement are all that those who die without Jesus Christ as their Saviour have to look forward to. It is better to reach now for the hands of mercy! If you have never turned to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, turn to Him today, trusting in His finished work on the cross of Calvary, believing in His death for your sins, His burial, and His literal, physical resurrection three days later. Turn to Him and let Him purge away the dross of sin in your life and make you a vessel worthy of honour.
Proverbs 25:4 Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.
I Shall Come Forth As Gold
No longer on the mountaintop, The tempests wax fierce and hot;
Though the way ahead may seem rough, His grace will always be enough -
For when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
As gold, as gold, I shall come forth as gold;
As gold, as gold, I shall come forth as gold.
As I walk through the shadow of death, This valley seems to steal my breath;
Though I cannot yet see my way, I will trust in Jesus come what may -
For when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
When storm clouds carry doubt and fear, I will not fret for God is near.
Though I walk through the darkest day, Through faith, my Lord will light my way -
For when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Someday my skies will clear again, The clouds will part - I shall see Him!
Now by faith, but then by sight, I'll behold my King in all His might -
For when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
Poem written June 22nd, 2003
Study written August 6th, 2004
By Jerry Bouey
Eagle's Wings Ministries
The Furnace Of Affliction - Part One
As Silver Is Tried