Advent 2015: Jesus as Refiner’s Fire

 “But who may abide the day of his coming?  and who shall stand when he appears? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.” Malachi 3:2  

One of the many names Jesus is given is the Refiner’s Fire.  John Piper makes the point that Jesus is not called a forest fire, or a bonfire, which completely incinerate.  He is a refiner’s fire, which melts us down piece by piece, exposing all the unwanted sin until we shine in the likeness of Christ.  Or as Pastor Bert said:  until he can see his face in us.
The definition of refine is to remove impurities or unwanted elements from a substance.  That is why it is such a serious thing to forget about God and reject our faith.  It would be like if we took our sins, that Christ took away with his death on the cross, and embraced them and put them back on.
That’s what Jesus does for us.
~Hans Tamminga, age 14

Finding Faith

But who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand when he appears?
For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.

Malachi 3:2

The other day I received a message on my computer; evidently I had done something that fouled the computer and it could do some irreparable harm if not corrected immediately. I called my daughter Nancy, our computer person, and she came and rescued me.
We receive messages all the time. Most are non-threatening but occasionally you get one like the one about my computer.
The most important and sometimes frightening are the ones we get from the Lord. Such was the case with Malachi’s message to Israel. He came as a messenger from the Lord with a most alarming message. To an unfaithful  people, the Lord, the messenger of the covenant, would come, and would come suddenly. And he would come as a refiner’s fire to see if there were any who in faith revealed something of the likeness of their Lord. In the words of Jesus, “would he find any faith?”All he found were unrighteous, self serving covenant breakers. To keep covenant was to love God and their neighbor, but there was no evidence of this. Consequently God said, “I will come near to you for judgment.”(3:5)  But there is a word of hope a promise of rescue: “But to you who revere my name the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in it’s wings.”(4:12)
For us today the sudden coming of which Malachi predicts will happen once again. Once again the question Jesus posed will be valid, “Will he find any faith on the earth?”(Luke 18:8)
We live in a difficult day for Christians. Our testimony to the Truth is being challenged and abnegated with venom. Speaking the name of Jesus in the Public Square will, by some, cause you to be charged with Hate Speech.  We are going to be challenged openly and viciously at every turn. It will come to the point that our very lives will be in danger.Are you and I willing to give our lives for the Lord Jesus?  The “rescuer” says, “Fear not I have overcome the world.” I wonder if this is why Jesus posed the question, “When the Son of Man comes will he find faith on the earth?”
~Pastor Jack Matheis

Who Can Stand?

But who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand when he appears?
For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.
Malachi 3:2

Misperceptions about judgment day swirl around freely these days. In sixth grade a friend told me he hoped his name would be in the Book of Life and I barely slept for weeks, fearful of whether my own name was in God’s eternal ledger. Meanwhile, many contemporary Christians wish to do away with judgment and Hell in light of our culture. Some regard these realities as harsh myths that could never be reconciled with their vision of a loving God.

Both viewpoints hide a kernel of truth, but taken on their face have done gross injustice to the truth about final judgment. No one will be able to stand when he appears, no one will be able to endure the day of his coming.

Who is this ‘he’? We know from Scripture (Matthew 25, II Timothy 4 are but several examples) that Christ is the one who returns to judge as the one who has already been judged. God said the final ‘yes’ to humanity in Christ, yet still says no sin. Though we will never be rid of sin in this life, we cannot keep up the act of deciding for both God and sin.

During this Lenten season we bury ourselves only into Christ, knowing he alone can mediate as the one who took the fullness of God’s judgment…and knowing he alone acts as the one who can lead into a new creation. ~Ben Gibson