The Refiner's Fire
November 1, 2008

C. R. Oliver

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November 1, 2008

The Refiner's Fire

The genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love.
1 Peter 1:7-8
(Author's Note: For several years, I had interest in a lab that melted and molded gold. Under intense circumstances, the metal burns away impurity and becomes transparent in nature. Faith reacts similarly. Under intense pressure and testing by fire, one's faith is wrested of impurity and there burns within the saint such intensity that the life of that believer becomes transparent and pure to those who look upon him.)

Peter knew what the testing of one's faith felt like. He was well acquainted with the venues which produced the trials that proved his mettle. Threatened, imprisoned and castigated, Peter stood on the solid rock of his faith in Jesus. He understood that regardless of the source of persecution and trial, the "Praise, honor, and glory" always went to Jesus, whose life and death had proved Him faithful.

The refiner's fire is one of the common links between those who are saints. The sons of God possess "like precious faith" which is more to be desired than the source platform for world economy and trade-gold! "Like precious faith" is the bond that link saints to each other and persecution is one identifying attribute to be found in all true believers…they will go through the fire; it is an absolute guarantee.

Encouragement raced toward the church at Smyrna in Revelation, as John spoke of those about to be tried in the fires of satan's last ditch rebellion. The end-time began in John's day and is still calling to its martyrs.
'Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'
Revelation 2:10-11
The devil has power to raise up his forces against the sons of God in the testing of the saints. One thing is for sure, the saints will pass the test! Such is the power of faithfulness unto death. Though faced with imprisonment and brutal treatment, it will be a short time compared to the glory to come. God said He would give them a (Greek: Stephanos) crown of life. Their faithfulness would not go unrewarded; their treatment would not go unnoticed!

What John did not say was obvious. God did not say He would spare the Smyrna church or rescue them or deliver them or rapture them. The treatise in Revelation two is, God would reward them and they would be in His presence and care when it was over. All of Hebrews eleven is involved in this Scripture. The "world was not worthy of them."

Job's great testimony parallels this provision and blessing. Having lost all, having endured the cynicism of his friends and the onslaught of the devil, his testimony of faithfulness clung to God.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
My foot has held fast to His steps;
I have kept His way and not turned aside.
I have not departed from the commandment of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth
More than my necessary food.
Job 23:10-12
The oldest written material on earth chronicled the awful consequence of trial by fire. It also chronicled a man's determination to trust God regardless of the circumstances surrounding him. Job predated the gospel, the children of Israel and some would say the Flood. His tenacity, through intolerable inner probes and countless forays into conjecture with his wife, neighbors and society, was based on faith alone. It is the trying of one's faith that makes patience.

In viewing Job's testimony, one wonders what modern counterparts would have said; indeed, what would be the testimony of the modern heart? First, he declared that God was aware of his way. God knew him and knew his paths. Second, Job believed it was God who was testing him, when in reality it was the devil. He prognosticated by faith that, "I shall come forth as gold." He knew that he would come through the pain and agony of the moment victorious! He knew that there was a better day ahead. He knew that there would come a time that he would hear from heaven that he had passed the test. His determination to "stay the course" was a powerful deterrent to satan's thrashing. "My foot has held fast to His steps," is a confession worthy to be made even by modern standards.

"I have kept His way and not turned aside," can be said by few today with any truthfulness. "I have not departed from the commandment of His lips," would be a rare testimony in any meeting. Those who relish hearing, "He that is sinless cast the first stone," need to hear a counterpart. "I have treasured the words of His mouth, more than my necessary food," was the final oblation in Job's litany of love. Maybe, just maybe, the last phrase is the reason for all the others. Maybe, a strong Word dependence with a relationship to "the words of His mouth," is what the church must rediscover. It is the Word that tests by fire. Joseph, the son of Jacob, sold into servitude and imprisoned, was heralded by David who said it best.
Joseph--who was sold as a slave.
They hurt his feet with fetters,
He was laid in irons.
Until the time
that his word came to pass,
The word of the LORD tested him.
The king sent and released him,
The ruler of the people let him go free.
He made him lord of his house,
And ruler of all his possessions,
To bind his princes at his pleasure,
And teach his elders wisdom.
Psalms 105:17-22
Those who have worn a prisoner's chains have a tug in their hearts when they read this passage. The cruelty of imprisonment is born aplenty these days by many as innocent as Joseph. A tendency to cry out, "Unjust," is one's first impulse amid the tears, confusion and powerlessness of endless mornings and night-but God! Joseph's feet bore a testimony which never faded from his mind as, "The word of the Lord tested him." Listen, there is testing going on in this Twenty-first Century! Its times are cruel and the world seems insulated in luxury and complacency. Those of the world have no care, but the Word cares. "When saw we Thee in prison?" was uttered by religious pacifists wrapped in nonchalance and covered with dalliance. Hear this church! Hear what is trooping to your door in increasing steadiness. Hear the voices of friends, relatives and confidants selling out the saints to preserve their station! The Word is formulating its devil inspired test, and every true believer has signed to take it.
Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon,
At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.
For this is a statute for Israel,
A law of the God of Jacob.
This He established in Joseph as a testimony,
When He went throughout the land of Egypt,
Where I heard a language I did not understand.
'I removed his shoulder from the burden;
His hands were freed from the baskets.
You called in trouble, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
'Hear, O My people and I will admonish you!
O Israel, if you will listen to Me!
There shall be no foreign god among you;
Nor shall you worship any foreign god.
I am the LORD your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.'
Psalms 81:3-10
Joseph was given as a testimony that God has an end to trials by fire. Joseph was promoted to the highest of offices when the registrar of all registrars took him by the hand. O church, hear what the Spirit is saying, "Hear, O My people and I will admonish you! O Israel, IF you will listen to Me!" "I am the Lord your God…Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." This is the saint sequence, after the Fire-a procession to a throne and after a wilderness comes Canaan!

It is better to be tested of God than to test God. Israel learned that! Scripture has no favorites and the sad story of a people who tried the Living God, reaped a harvest in their hearts. "Left to wander until death" is a sentence which will be said over thousands of churches and fellowships! God gladly gave what the squawking multitude begged for, and more!
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
'Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, 'They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.'
So I swore in My wrath,
'They shall not enter My rest.'
Hebrews 3:7-11
Then God gave them a test; it was the test at Marah. Imbedded in Israel forever is the memory of that test which issued from Marah.
So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, 'What shall we drink?' So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them, and said, 'If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.' Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.
Exodus 15:22-27
Every thirsty soul in life who finds putrid the waters of this world and cries out to God for relief is shown a tree. Calvary changes the condition! Calvary satisfies with the "water of life." Out of the recipient's belly flows living water whose source river flows from the altar of God and downward to a world desperate for a drink of it. A series of cool cups were dished to a weary multitude then as now, "If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord …and do what is right in His sight…none of the diseases (will be put on you)." "I am the Lord who heals you," should be heard in every pulpit, pew and passageway from hospital to home. There is a test coming with one question, "Do you believe Me?" Notice the progression of the tests coming from the Exodus passage. Remember progression is not procession. Nothing of worth has ever been accomplished by robed procession, but miracles have come from "heeding" His voice and passing through the progression.

The blessing of Levi began with testing and ended with a promise. So, every demand of the Bible has its passage and its promise. (In progressive testing modules, a student may not advance to the next level until he or she has passed the exit test. At entrance, there might be given a test to discover, but at the end there is a test of mastery. The church cannot continue to retake the first and never attain the latter!)
And of Levi he said:
'Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one,
Whom You tested at Massah,…
… Bless his substance, LORD,
And accept the work of his hands;
Strike the loins of those who rise against him,
And of those who hate him, that they rise not again.'
Deuteronomy 33:8, 11
Richness comes with mastery. In this, the entirety of the focal passage (I Peter 1:6,7) can now be viewed and understood. The ancients, who stand as supreme examples of faith, know the inner workings of this verse. They join with the New Testament writers in both experience and expression.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:6-9
No man can understand even the crust of central truth in the efficacy of trial by fire until he or she stands by faithful Abraham, trudging up the mountain with firewood and the soft grip of his only son. No person may come near to knowing what Peter expressed in this passage until they see the glad look in his aged face to know that, "God has provided a substitute."
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called,' concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
Hebrews 11:17-20
O God, the severest of all testing is about to come upon the saints…let all follow faithful Abraham, faithful Job, faithful Jeremiah, faithful Simon!
You have tested my heart;
You have visited me in the night;
You have tried me and have found nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men,
By the word of Your lips,
I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.
Psalms 17:3-5

For You, O God, have tested us;
You have refined us as silver is refined
You brought us into the net;
You laid affliction on our backs.
You have caused men to ride over our heads;
We went through fire and through water;
But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.
Psalms 66:10-12

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For My own sake, for My own sake, I will do it;
For how should My name be profaned?
And I will not give My glory to another
Isaiah 48:10-11

But You, O LORD, know me;
You have seen me,
And You have tested my heart toward You
Jeremiah 12:3

I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.'
Zechariah 13:9
(Author's Note: Research the 1/3 factor, using its occurrence in Ezekiel, and you find definitive judgment. God severely tests for purity; those in the refiner's fire are placed in a crucible (note the derivation of this word). That fraction (1/3) of the whole will hear, "This is My people." Note: EACH ONE will say, "The Lord is MY God." Two-thirds will weep in their delusion, but the saints (the 1/3) will shout, "Hallelujah!")

There remains the question, "Why are so many seeking to escape the testing fire?"

Until Next month,

Dr. Cosby R. Oliver, PhD.


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The Sons of Zadok HR The Regal Pair Solomon's Secret Called to be Saints

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In Spanish:

Called to be Saints El Secreto de Salomon Los Hijos Sadoc

In German:

Die Sohn Zadoks

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