And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.
each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
When you take a look at the above 3 verses carefully, you will notice that these verses come together to describe the identity of Israel as described in Gen 32:27-28. We therefore see that the Church is simply the Israel of the New Covenant and the reason we prevail in our striving against God and men is because of the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ that is taking place in us. So, like a noble metal (gold/silver) is purified in the furnace, the Word of God that germinates a living spirit in the believer who was foreordained to saving faith, gives the believer nobility (Rev 1:6). This living spirit grows in the believer, eventually overpowering the flesh in him/her. This is the process of sanctification, where God puts a series of trials in the believer’s life, which acts like a furnace in his/her life (Psalm 119:71, 75), and unlike the unbeliever who goes from bad to worse after going through a trial. The believer comes out a better person after going through a trail, as these trials appear to burn the dross in him/her in subduing the flesh and empowering the spirit in him/her, which all happens according to the will and for the glory of the Triune God Almighty.
9 For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath;
for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,
so as not to destroy you completely.
10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
And I will put this third into the fire,
and refine them as one refines silver,
and test them as gold is tested.
They will call upon my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘They are my people’;
and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
Have you ever noticed how hard it is in this world for a righteous man of God to make a living? As for the wicked, no matter how easy it is made for them to make a living, those self-righteous fools still cannot make it. For those who can understand spiritual truth, the reason for this is explained in the above two scriptures but the foolish self-serving world we live in however, has discerned that it is better to stay wicked than live by the precepts of God. The Bible however says God is looking for those who will worship him in Spirit and Truth. For instance, as God did with Peter, He did also with Job, in handing him over to Satan to be sifted, that when Satan is through with him, Job/Peter may come forth as gold (Job 23:10) and return to strengthen their brothers/friends (Luke 22:31-32/Job 42:10). In all this sifting, it is our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ who stands with us that we may not perish under the sanctifying hand of God (Isaiah 41:10/Mat 28:20). He was there with Shadrach, Meshack & Abednego helping them prevail in the furnace, which was heated 7 times the usual (Dan 3:25). He was there with Daniel in the den helping him prevail in the midst of hungry lions (Dan 6:22). Also from the two verses mentioned above, we see that God in a manner of speaking, sanctifies the unbeliever too but not as He does so with the elect because the spirit of Christ is not there working in the unbeliever to sustain him/her in the furnace of affliction. So, the progeny of the unbeliever continues, for who knows, may be there is a believer in there somewhere whom Jesus will not lose (John 10:29/Luke 15:4) because He has already paid the price for the Salvation of all God’s elect (Heb 7:27 & 9:12).
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
For by a single offering he (Jesus) has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
Like the first 3 verses mentioned in this post, the above three pieces of scripture shows us how Jesus endures with us & empowers us under the sanctifying hand of God in this world with us. God is sovereign and this unbelieving world is the furnace He uses to sanctify His people. Salvation however, is God saving us from Himself, where God puts us believers in this kiln while His Son sustains in the furnace. The Bible says, we were made in the image of God, which was broken in the fall of Adam. So, we are like broken pieces of pottery fixed with the knowledge of God presented to us scripture (2Tim 3:16-17) and sustained by the spirit of Christ in that furnace, that we may come out of that furnace being conformed to the image/character of the Almighty Son of God (Rom 8:29). So like the Parable of Sower, where the true Christian yields crop thirty, sixty and a hundred fold in Mat 13:23 & like the Parable of Talents in Mat 25:14-30, where the true Christian stewards gains and pays back their Master, 5 & 2 more talents respectively, as over what they had received… similarly, it is with the Christian who comes forth from the furnace as gold or silver for the glory of God. It’s important to note that this is not the work of the individual but these fruits are simply the evidence of saving faith (James 2:17-18) the believer has been granted by saving grace.