“Until the time that his word came: the Word of the Lord tried him.” Psalm 105:19
Trial in the Christian Church is the Lord’s refining pot which is never off the fire. It has this excellent effect that it separates the precious from the vile. As long as the Church exists I suppose she will have traitors among her number, for if Judas intruded under the watchful eye of the Chief Shepherd, we may be pretty sure that many a Judas will elude the far less watchful eyes of the minor shepherds.
Because trial and persecution test men’s professions, they are used as the winnowing fan in the Lord’s hand, as it is written, “He will thoroughly purge His floor.” In persecution, the mere professors, the camp-followers and hangers-on, soon flee away, for they have no heart for true religion when the profession of it involves a cross. They could walk with Jesus in silver slippers, but they cannot travel with Him when His bleeding feet go barefoot over the world’s rough ways. So they depart, every man to his own, and we may say of them, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
So that trial as a permanent institution is of much service to the Church in promoting her purity and we are bound to praise the Lord whose fire is in Zion and His furnace in Jerusalem. A similar process goes on in the individual soul. No Christian man is all that he thinks he is–our purest gold is alloyed. We have, none of us, so much faith as we impute to ourselves, nor as much patience, or humility, or meekness, or love to God, or love to men. Spurious coin swells our apparent wealth. It is amazing how rich and increased in goods we are till the Lord deals with us by a trial–and then, full often, we discover that we are naked, poor and miserable in the very respects in which we boasted ourselves!
Oh, man, if you are a child of God, you are like a house which He is building with gold, silver and precious stones! But by reason of your old nature you are mixing up with the Divine material much of your own wood, hay and stubble. Therefore the fire is made to rage around you to burn out this injurious stuff which mars the whole fabric! If the Holy Spirit is pleased to bless your afflictions to you, then will you be daily led to put away the materials of the old nature with deep abhorrence and repentance! And thus shall the true world which He has built upon the sure foundation stand in its true beauty and you shall be built for eternity.
Every good man is not only tested by trial, but is the better for it. To the evil man, affliction brings evil. He rebels against the Lord and, like Pharaoh, his heart is hardened. But to the Christian it is good to be afflicted, for, when sanctified by the Spirit, trial is a means of instruction to him second to none in value. The rod of God teaches us more than all the voices of His ministers. When the Christian has been passed through the fire, the assaying, by removing the dross,
Brothers and Sisters, you are not what you shall be, nor can you be what you shall be except through a measure of trial. Child, it is necessary for you to feel the weight of your Father’s hand, or you will never behave yourself as a man. You must see His face veiled with frowns and hear His voice in harshness chiding you for your transgressions, otherwise you will always retain the follies of childhood. Our chastisements are our promotions. They are privileges more precious than the rights of princes. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” Joseph could say this–and all the Lord’s Josephs either acknowledge it now or will have to admit it hereafter.
(C. H. Spurgeon: Sermon Trial By Word: Sermon #1277)
Therefore the fire is made to rage around you
to burn out this injurious stuff which mars
the whole fabric! If the Holy Spirit is pleased
to bless your afflictions to you, then will you
be daily led to put away the materials of
the old nature with deep abhorrence and repentance!
And thus shall the true world which He has built
upon the sure foundation stand in its true beauty
and you shall be built for eternity.
*Emphasis Mine-Pictures Not Mine.