How to 'Assay' Your Faith
by Tim Greenwood
Let's start out by just reading our foundation passage...

1 Pet 1:1  Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
1 Pet 1:2  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
1 Pet 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1 Pet 1:4  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
1 Pet 1:5  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
1 Pet 1:6  Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
1 Pet 1:7  That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1 Pet 1:8  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
1 Pet 1:9  Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Religious tradition says that verse 7 teaches that when we as Christians, go through hell here on earth - we should just 'suck it up' and if it doesn't kill us (or even if it does) somehow that brings glory to God and and us - when we get to Heaven.  So what that implies is that your suffering is allowed (if not sanctioned) by God - and that our life here is some kind of twisted endurance test.

Well nothing could be further from the truth.

In my studies of the writings of Apostle Paul I have noticed that he really had a 'way' with words.  He would often use 'play on words' (using different words that sound sound the same) and anologies as themes that he would weave into the text.
You will see that he has done that very thing in this passage.

Below is a retranslation or transliteration from the Greek.  I apologise (in advance) that I was not able to display the text in the same size type, but I felt that the arrows would help you to visualize more clearly what Paul was refering to as you step through the passage.


 

So Paul here is refering to the "assaying" of gold, it's smelting (or refinement) process and finally - cashing it in.

MODERN FIRE ASSAYING
Metals recovered in fire assaying are the metals that emerge from the fusion of the material in a assay furnace, for gold, usually at temperatures of about 2,000 Degrees F. The Fire Assay Method is centuries old, but it is still one of the most reliable methods for performing assays (to determine the metal content of a ore) of ores that contain precious (noble) metals - Gold, Silver and Platinum. 
 For fire assaying ores, usually fluxes, materials such as borax, soda, silica are added to the ore. The amounts of each chemical added to the flux mixture depend upon the elements present in the particular ore, such as sulfur and iron. Usually lead, is also added. The Fluxes (Except for the Lead, which is added for oxidization and sodium carbonate, which is added for de-sulfurization), are added for the purpose of lowering the melting point and imparting a homogeneous fluidity to the melted oxide impurities. The most common oxide impurities are silica, lime, and various metal oxides such as iron, copper, zinc, etc.. 
The ore samples with the fluxes are then added to a crucible, are placed in a Assay Furnace, which has been pre-heated to 2,000 deg F, and left for a predetermined time, to melt or "fuse" the contents of the crucible. Then, repeatedly the crucibles are removed from the assay furnace; the molten dross or slag (lighter material) is carefully poured or scraped from the crucible.  When this is cooled, it is then placed in a porous clay crucible called a Cupel. The cupel is designed to absorb the lead when heated to the melting point. So, the cupel's with the gold and lead are again placed in a Assay or Cupellation furnace, heated to about 2,000 deg F and the lead is absorbed into the cupel, leaving only the gold which is weighed.
Fire assaying in Paul’s day was done very similar.

Now I've never seen this done other than pictures in a book.  However, back years ago Marcia and I went to an estate sale, which really turned out to be a junk sale where everything on the property was for sale.  After poking through a drawer full of stuff I found a small box that contained dentures.  You know, old yellowed false teeth and bridgework that had been in somebody’s mouth.  Yes, Marcia was appalled too - but I bought the box for less than a dollar and put them away.

Later on I took them to a place that bought precious metals to see if there was any gold used in them and to see what it would be worth.  Well the man (an assayer) had to break off the porcelain teeth, and then melt down and separate the gold from the other metals, which I watched him do.  When he was done the gold was weighed on a tiny scale and I was paid cash for it.  (Around $150 if I remember correctly.)

LETS LOOK AT THE ANALOGY…
In Paul's analogy, your FAITH is the gold.  YOU are the assayer.  The FIRE is the attacks of the devil or situations of life.  The Holy Spirit is your TEACHER.

Picture this:
You find a gold nugget. [Faith] You take it to an assay office to determine its value [purity] so that you can turn it into money [your ultimate reward] at the gold exchange [from Jesus].

The teacher [The Holy Spirit] at the assay office shows you how to refine or assay it [to increase its value] and shows you an example of pure gold [Jesus’ faith] and you begin the process.

The FIRE is the attacks of the devil or situations of life that occur where you can apply what you have read/heard in the Word of God.

You are the assayer but the Holy Spirit is there to point out the impurities [sins, faults and imperfections] as the fire causes them to boil to the surface.

As you deal with the impurities (removing the dross) - there is less in the cup and it weighs less – but – the gold (your faith) becomes more pure and therefore more and more valuable!  10Karat, 14Karat, 18Karat and finally when no more dross comes to the surface – it is pure - 24Karat.

And in the end – you will be paid [by Jesus] for it [the great value of your faith]!
 

1 Pet 1:10  Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
1 Pet 1:11  Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
1 Pet 1:12  Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
1 Pet 1:13  Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Pet 1:14  As obedient [hearing and doing] children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
1 Pet 1:15  But as he which hath called you is holy [24 karat pure], so be ye holy [24 karat pure] in all manner of behavior;
1 Pet 1:16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
1 Pet 1:17  And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's doing, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
1 Pet 1:18  Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your empty behavior received by tradition from your fathers;
Just remember that you were not redeemed by money, silver or gold (which means nothing to God)

1 Pet 1:19  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without any impurities:
 

Peter voluntarily, willingly, desirously - assays himself – through the teaching and oversight of the Holy Spirit – to purify (assay) his faith.

He is purified by the process of  - hearing and doing – combined with the ever-present, perfect example (sample) of the perfect faith - of Jesus Christ.
 

SO WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?
When ad-ver-sity, trials or attacks happen – How do you react?

You have to make a choice. 

Are you going to roll over on your back like a little whipped puppy and start whining?  Or are you going to exercise your faith THROUGH the attack and in the process, with the help of the Holy Spirit, purify that faith and make it more valuable!

In Luke 18:8 Jesus seems to ask the question: When I return, will I find any faith on the Earth? 

Gold is NOTHING!  In Heaven they pave streets with it! 

But FAITH - FAITH seems very VALUABLE to Jesus!