The Baptist Bible Hour now comes to you under the direction of Elder Lacerre Bradley Jr. O for a thousand tongues to sing, my great Redeemer's praise! Thou glories of my God and King, thou triumphs of his grace!
This is Lacerre Bradley Jr. inviting you to stay tuned for another message of God's sovereign grace. Heart and mouths and hearts and voices, sound the notes of praise above! Jesus reigns and heaven rejoices, Jesus reigns, the God of love! Seasons on yonder throng, Jesus rules the world alone! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Jesus rules the world alone! Jesus, hail, whose glory brightens, all above and gives its worth! Glorified, the smile enlightens, cheers and charms thy saints on earth!
When we think of our God, Lord, we only love divine! Alleluia! Alleluia! Lord, we only love divine! Savior, hasten thine appearing, bring, O bring, the glorious day!
When the awful salmon's hearing, how the nurse shall pass away! Then with golden hearts we'll sing, glory, glory, glory to our King! Alleluia! Alleluia! Glory, glory to our King! Well, we're right in the middle of the summertime, a part of the year that I dearly love.
I love warm weather. But it has also proven to be a time of challenge for our radio broadcasts, that people travel and often do not have the same schedule they do at other times of the year, and tend, therefore, to forget that the needs of the program go right on. So I encourage you, if you can help us at this time, to send a donation to help keep the program on the station where you're listening, or you can go to our website and make a donation there at BaptistBibleHour.org. Our mailing address is The Baptist Bible Hour, Box 17037, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. We continue our message today, entitled The Refiner's Fire. The text is Malachi chapter 3, beginning with the first verse. Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to the temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in. Behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts, but who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appearth? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fuller soap, and he shall sit as a refiner, and a 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. We have first considered the coming of the Lord, that the coming of Jesus Christ into the world was indeed prophesied, and then have looked at his work as the refiner.
And finally, we will look at what it is like to be in the refiner's fire. The purpose of his coming at this juncture was to save. John chapter 3 verse 17 says, For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. So when he speaks of judgment coming near and saying I will be a witness, a swift witness against the sorcerers and the adulterers and against the swears and all of those that are enumerated, we know that ultimately there will come a time that severe judgment will fall upon them.
But when Jesus came, when he was born of the virgin, lived here upon this earth for 33 years, the end in view was to go to the cross and redeem a people. So he said, I didn't come into the world to condemn it. He didn't come at that first appearing to bring judgment. He came that men might be saved. And he paid the price necessary.
And the good news is, he got what he paid for. When he paid the price with the shedding of his blood, not one single soul for whom he died will perish. They will be with him ultimately when he stands in the presence of the Father and says, Behold, I am the children which thou has given me.
They will all be there. What reassurance that gives us, what comfort that brings us in the most difficult times that we might encounter. Now, grace then is seen in the work of the refiner. The refiner's fire is not like the wild raging fire that destroys a forest. The refiner's fire is for a beneficial purpose. Now chapter 4 verse 1 tells us about a destructive fire. Behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble. And the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But in this case, the fire that we're currently looking at is the refiner's fire.
The fire is to purify. It's to get rid of impurity, to get rid of sin. God does not abandon his people in spite of their failure, in spite of the sins that so often beset them and plague them. God does not forsake them because he's a covenant keeping God. Jesus Christ was the messenger of the covenant. Let's look at Hebrews chapter 13 to see reference to that covenant. Verse 20, Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ and to whom be glory forever and ever.
Amen. He speaks of the blood of the everlasting covenant. What is that covenant? Before time began, the Father made choice of a people.
He gave them to his Son. The Son agreed to come in the fullness of time, lay down his life, and purchase them. The Holy Spirit agreed to call them, draw them, and apply that salvation. There was a covenant between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If any part of that was an agreement between God and us, we would have failed on our part. But there's no failure in this covenant because it's the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And it was through the blood of the everlasting covenant that Jesus was brought out of the grave. Therefore, we have confidence, not in ourselves, but in him.
Aren't you glad to know that? That in spite of the fact we all stumble along the way. We come before the Lord and confess our sins and ask him to help us to do better.
We may do better for a little while. And then there comes another time we stumble and we have to come back and we're confessing the same sin again. You say, I'm amazed that the Lord still has anything to do with me. Well, he does because of a covenant, because of an agreement that was made before time began. He is a covenant-keeping God. And then we consider the question of what it is like in the refiner's fire.
Since the refiner sits to consume the dross, to purify the silver, what's it like? Well, you can imagine when the word used is fire that it's often going to be a painful situation. 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. What a wonderful thing to know that you have an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and faith is not away. You're being kept by the power of God and you greatly rejoice in this.
But at the present time, for a season now, you're in heaviness. You have a burden to carry. You have troubles, disappointments, heartaches, conflicts, trials from day to day.
Difficult temptations, manifold, many different kinds of testings that come your way. What's the purpose of it all? That the trial of your faith being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried what with fire might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. So when the fire of tribulation comes, it's painful.
No trial is going to be pleasant. It's a painful situation. But the purpose of it is that God is working in you to purify you, to change you. It is His purpose, according to Romans chapter 8, that you will ultimately be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, who may foreknow that He did also predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren whom He did predestinate, whom He also called, whom He called, whom He also justified, whom He justified, whom He also glorified. There we see the chain of grace, no place for it to be broken. The same ones that were predestinated are the same ones that are going to be glorified.
Glorified means perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. But that begins even now. It will not be consummated. It will not be brought to ultimate perfection until you're at home with the Lord. But if you're one of His, it begins now. And the way it begins, He purifies you through your trials. He is the refiner.
He controls the temperature. Has there ever been a time when you were going through a difficult place and you said, Lord, I think I'm getting the lesson. It would be good right now if you could just turn down the fire a little bit. And so often He says, no, it needs to go up just a little more. You think you've gotten the lesson, but you haven't.
There's still a lot of dross to be consumed. You're still, instead of recognizing the hand of God, the matter you're feeling sorry for yourself. Nobody has the troubles I do. Nobody has to go through the hard times like I do.
Poor old me. No, the Lord's going to burn that out of you. Where you get to the place that in the darkest of times you can still rejoice in the Lord, because according to the next verse in our passage, which we'll get to later, He is one who changes not. So though our circumstances change, our feelings change, our emotions change, God does not change. And then we look at James chapter 1, verse 2. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations or testings. I mean, every time I read that, I think, how could that be? And when I remember that this epistle was written to people who had been driven from their homes and were scattered abroad and they get this letter from James and James says, Count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations. They probably thought Brother James had gone off the deep end.
What's wrong with this man anyway? How can we count it joy when we're in a terrible, miserable state? He didn't say, feel it joy. He said, count it joy.
Put it over on the positive side of the register because God is at work. God's doing something in your life. God is changing you. He's turning out the love for sin. God is conforming you to his image.
That's exactly what he says. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience or perseverance, endurance. But let patience have a perfect work that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. Work through the trial.
Many people today, when they run into a difficult place, they look for the escape hatch. I want to get out of this. Go to the doctor and say, I'm feeling nervous. Give me some kind of sedative so it'll dull the pain and I'm not aware of how difficult my trials are. No, the Lord says, let patience have a perfect work. Through perseverance you continue. You find your strength in the Lord. You find your guidance in his word.
You depend upon him. And what is the purpose of it all? That you may be perfect, not sinlessly perfect, but you may be mature. You may become a mature Christian, entire, lacking nothing. Now, when he says, count it all joy, obviously that doesn't mean that you say, you know, I just love trouble. Thank you, Lord, that I'm sick. I'm miserable, but I just really rejoice in sickness.
Obviously not saying that. Pain hurts. Sickness is bad. Troubles are difficult. But the thing you're rejoicing in is that God is working and going to use the affliction and the trial for your benefit. Being in the refiner's fire involves God's gracious work to make us holy. We look at Hebrews chapter 12, a very familiar passage, but we need to be reminded of it and acquainted with it. Hebrews chapter 12 verse 5. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children. My son despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. It's easy in troubled times to feel like I've had it. I can't take anymore. I give up. That's what he says, do not do.
Do not faint. Not to be an attitude that God doesn't care about me. God says, I love you so much that I will chasten you. When you are neglecting me, when you're going your own way, when you've allowed sin to have a lodging place in you, I love you too much to tolerate that. So I'm going to correct you.
I'm going to chasten you. He doesn't do it the same way every time. Doesn't do it the same way from one person to another. God knows each individual.
Knows what it takes. And the whole purpose is then that he's going to do something for our benefit. But when we're chastened, we are not to faint. For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth and scourgeth every son with whom he receiveth.
And that word scourgeth indicates that this isn't a light matter. Scourging was indeed extremely painful. And some of the trials that we have are very, very, very difficult. They hurt.
They cut us to the deep. But he says, all of this is because the Lord loves you. If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you his sons. For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? For if he be without chastisement, where of all the partakers then your bastards are not sons.
You're not really a son. The evidence of sonship is that God loves you so much, he will chasten you. Furthermore, we've had fathers of our flesh which chastened us and we gave them reverence. There was not much more being subjection to the father of spirits and lived. For they rarely for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure. But he for our profit that we what might be partakers of his holiness.
That's what it's all about. God has called us to be holy. Be ye holy even as I am holy is what he says.
Verse 14, follow peace with all men and what? Holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. The idea that a person can be saved by grace, go back into the world, live after the flesh, and go to heaven is not a Bible doctrine. If a person has had an experience of grace, if they've been born again, if they're a child of God, they will stumble, they will falter, but they will acknowledge it, they will confess their sin, and if they have no evidence of that work, no true repentance, no turning from sin, they're a false professor.
They may have been a member of the church for many years, but they're not on their way to heaven. No man is going to see him without holiness. Now the holiness of course which makes us acceptable in God's sight is that which is imputed to us, the righteousness of Jesus Christ which is credited to our account because of his sacrifice for us. But there's going to be an ongoing working of holiness in those who are his. So the end in view according to verse 4 of our passage in the book of Malachi is that we might offer a sacrifice to the Lord that is pleasing to him.
He was not pleased with the sacrifices that were being offered in the day of Malachi because the people did not have the right spirit and heart about it. He wants us to offer acceptable sacrifices. 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 9, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood. You now are a part of a royal priesthood. You don't have to go to an earthly priest, you don't have to go to a Levitical priest, you go through the great high priest Jesus Christ, but you are a part of a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people that ye should what? Show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Is that happening in your life? Do you show forth the praises of him that called you? Do you live in such a way that others can see Christ in you? Do you speak of him?
Are you intimidated? Are you fearful to talk to somebody about the Lord? And to be found praising him because you are afraid of what their judgment of you might be? And then Romans chapter 12 verse 1, I beseech you therefore, brethren, with the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice. He is talking about us offering a sacrifice that is acceptable, that is pleasing in God's sight. I beseech you that you offer, you present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service. And how is this going to be done? Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
How is it with you? Even your body is to be presented as a living sacrifice. And if your body is to be presented before God, then there must be purity in the way you live. You don't use your body for sinful practices.
You don't abuse your body. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You want to present it as a living sacrifice for God. One more reference to the sacrifice, the offering that can be made. It's back to the book of Hebrews once again. Looking at chapter 13, the 15th verse.
By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. These people in Malachi's day were not offering praise to God. They were complaining about God.
They were saying that God seemed to approve of wickedness. What a terrible charge to lodge against the Holy God of Heaven. If you're complaining, if you're criticizing instead of praising God, you're not fulfilling this requirement to Him. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. What a dreadful thing when a person no longer is thankful. Oh, when we begin to recall His abundant mercies of the past, His daily benefits of the present, His wonderful promises of the future, surely we have every reason to give thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate, forget not, for with such sacrifices, God is well pleased.
Communicate by your generosity, by your giving, by your willingness to assist others. Forget not to do good, that which is right and commended and instructed for us in the Word of God. You today may be in the fire. Jesus sits at the refiner's fire.
The fact that it says Jesus sits indicates He's not anxious, He's not pacing up and down, He sits as the refiner at the refiner's fire. You may today feel that you're in the fire. How are you responding? Are you complaining? Are you prayerful?
Are you submissive? Are you praying, Lord, teach me the lesson? You ought to be like Christian in Pilgrim's Progress when he was growing up the hill and he stumbled and lost his scroll and he had to turn around and go back, pick it up and then retrace his steps.
You don't want to have to retrace your steps. If the Lord is dealing with you in the fire, pray, Lord, help me to learn the lesson. Help me to be humbled. Help me to be submissive. Help me to honor your name.
I don't want to have to retrace my steps and come back to this affliction again. To you who are unconverted, there is coming a day when the fire will not be the refiner's fire. It will be a destructive fire.
It will be a dreadful time. Jesus Christ came the first time to save, not to judge but that the world through him might be saved. But when he comes back the second time, he is coming in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power.
There's only one way to escape that fire. And that is to have Jesus Christ as your savior so that your sins have been blotted out. His righteousness has been imputed to you.
You stand because he is the one who holds you up. He's the savior. If you see yourself as a sinner, knowing you need a savior and you've never come to him, may you come to him today. Savior, I come to thee, on thee I come. Thou art my home and me, Jesus my home. Thou o'er my refuge art, comfort thou me. Heal thou my aching heart, thine would I be. If you today feel to be in the refiner's fire, remember that as Jesus sits as the refiner, that his purpose is not to destroy but to consume the dross and make a difference as he works effectively in our lives. If you'd like to get this complete message, The Refiner's Fire, on CD, request that when writing us. And until next week at this same time, may the Lord richly bless you all. That's the Baptist Bible Hour, Cincinnati, Ohio 45217. Savior, I come to thee, be thou my light. Upward my footsteps lead out of the night. To the heavenly day, bright with thy love, lead me, O Lord, I pray, homeward above.
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