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He is Like a Refiner’s Fire

July 8, 2006

Tomorrow’s sermon will be, in part, about how God tests or refines his children.   Here’s an excerpt from a 1996 sermon about the Refiner’s Fire that I decided not to include in tomorrow’s sermon.  So it’s a special Bloggers Bonus.

Although it is painful to be put in the fire, the text does not say that he is an incinerating fire.  It does not burn up completely.  It does not say that he is a forest fire.  He does not burn indiscriminately.  No, the refiner’s fire has a precise purpose, to purify us and make us worshippers who bring offerings in righteousness, to form us into the image of Christ.  This is the good news of the refiner’s fire.  I hope that you will have a delight in this attribute of Christ.  The good news is that if you have faith in Jesus, every affliction that you face in life has a precisely measured refining purpose.  It is always for refinement and never for punishment. Think about image of a refiner.  What does a refiner do?  He puts silver into a crucible, a little furnace, and turns up the heat.  I hope there are no metalworkers here to contradict me, but here’s what I understand happens to that silver from the little reading I’ve done this week.  The silver melts at a lower temperature than the dross, the impure metal does.  This was news to me.  I guess I always thought that the dross was burned up and then the pure solid silver remained.  But in fact the silver turns to liquid while the dross remains solid, so the molten silver is separated because it slides away from the impurities.  This is a great picture of what happens to us when we are in times of affliction.  Suffering doesn’t purify us by just burning off our sin so that it mysteriously vanishes.  No, our hearts break and melt and soften and suddenly we are able to pull away from sinful attitudes. We are malleable in the hands of the Lord and he slides us free from sinful habits.  We are able when our hearts are soft to let go of pride and any other impurities.

Another thing the refiner does, he looks into the crucible and he knows that it is time to take the silver out when he sees his reflection in the pool of liquid silver.  So God removes us from the crucible of affliction when his work of forming us into the image of Christ is done.

In verse 3 it says that Jesus sits and refines us as silver.  Why does he sit?  At first I thought it was a picture of his sitting in judgment on a throne.  But this isn’t judgment yet.  He judges unbelievers in verse 5.  Here he is still a refiner.  And a refiner sits close by and watches over the crucible to make sure that it doesn’t become too hot.  It’s a task that requires great care and attention.  The refiner can’t just set it on simmer and walk away.  He sits in order to keep close watch.  Some of you are in the crucible of affliction now.  Some of you are going through a time of deep trial.  Don’t think that Jesus is distant from you.  Look up out of the crucible and see his face.  He is watching over you, making sure the fire reaches the exact temperature he wants and not a degree higher.  How he cares for you when you are in the crucible of affliction!  I pray that you will see this morning and remember forever the love of your refiner.  He watches over you circumscribing the intensity and duration of your trial and causing it to work his good and eternal purpose in your life.

One Comment leave one →
  1. blondie permalink
    July 10, 2006 6:42 am

    The image of the refiner sitting over the fire, caring to watch how hot it gets, watching over the work that is being done is a tender one. And even more powerful for my mind
    when I remember he promises rest for the weary and burdened. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest, take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble and….you will find rest for your souls.” That causes me to see him as the refiner who turns down the heat so that the refined can rest for a bit. The affliction may not disappear, but its intensity may lessen for awhile.

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