Sermon # 144 Series: IsaiahTitle: Where Do You Find Godís Elect? Text: Isaiah 48:10
Subject: "The Furnace of Affliction"Date: Sunday Evening Ė March 21, 1993
The title of my message tonight is cast in the form of a question Ė Where Do You Find Godís Elect? The answer to that question is found in our text (Isa. 48:10) Ė "Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." As I read this text of Scripture three things caught my attention immediately, even before I began preparing my message. So let me give you these three things by way of introduction. They will naturally lead into the message of the text.
1st, The Blessed Doctrine of Election Ė God says, "I have chosen thee!" Let reprobate men carp and cavil all they want, this Book teaches the doctrine of Godís electing grace so constantly that you can hardly turn a page without finding it. We never tire of hearing God declare Ė "I have chosen thee!" (Ps. 65: 4; Matt. 20:28; John 15:16; Acts 13: 48; Rom. 9:11-13; 11:5; Eph. 1:3-6; II Thess. 2: 13-14; I Pet. 1: 1-2). The Bible teaches the doctrine of Godís electing grace! But what does the Bible teach about election?
We rejoice in the blessed doctrine of Godís electing grace. Without election there would be no salvation.
2nd, Earthly Trouble is No Proof of Grace In The Heart. God says, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction;" but the text does not suggest or imply that all who are in the furnace of affliction are chosen of God.
Illus: Ingeís Mother!
Spurgeon said, "It is a great truth that every child of God is afflicted; but it is a lie that every afflicted man is a child of God." (Ezek. 22:17-22). Trouble is no proof of grace, though grace is always followed by trouble.
Our text is a clear declaration of The Immutability of Godís Love For His People. "I have chosen thee," The furnace of affliction cannot change that! Your circumstances will never alter that! Let every believer here hear God speak to his heart Ė "I have chosen theeÖ"
O thank God for immutable love! (Mal. 3:6). He who chose us will never forget us! (Isa. 49:13-16).
Proposition: Our heavenly Father chastens every child of his love- (Heb. 12:5-11).
Note: If you are a good father, you see to it that your children obey you. If you love them, you chasten them (Pro. 13:24; 19:18; 23: 13-14).
Now let me raise and answer four questions:
I. Where Do You Find Godís Elect?
If you want to find Godís people in this world, you will most likely do so if you look for them in the furnace. You will seldom find Godís saints "fairing sumptuously" every day. You will usually find them in the fire, in the furnace of affliction. Go through your Bible and mark them. Seldom do you find men and women walking with God who did not walk through waters of trouble, floods of adversity, and the firey furnace of affliction.
Read the history of Godís church. It is a history written in blood. It is a history of trouble and affliction. Were we not slandered, were we not the butt of every joke, were we not maligned by men, we might question whether we are the children of God. Our Lord said, "In the world you shall have tribulation!" So it has been. So it is. So it shall be.
II. Why Are Godís People In The Furnace?
If the Lord God has chosen his people "in the furnace of affliction "There must be some very great reason for it. God does not cause his children to suffer needlessly. So, why do you find his saints in the furnace?
A. It is the Stamp of the Covenant (Gen. 15: 8-18).
When God confirmed his covenant to Abraham he gave him three things, by which he assured his servant of grace.
B. Anything Precious and Valuable Must Be Tried (Prov. 17: 3).
It was a law in Israel that everything that could abide the fire must go through the fire Ė (Num. 31: 23).
C. Whenever There Is A Sacrifice Offered To God, There Is Fire.
You and I are to present ourselves to God as constant living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1). But no sacrifice was offered to God unless it was burned.
D. We could never be conformed to Christ were our feet not Burned In The Furnace (Rev. 1: 15).
Our Lordís feet represent his humanity. His head represents his Deity. Deity could never suffer; but his feet, his human body and soul, suffered all the wrath of God in this world, when he died as our Substitute.
Thank God, we will never suffer his wrath (Rom. 8:1). Yet, our feet must also be burned in the furnace.
III. What Are The Benefits of The Furnace?
The furnace of affliction, like the refinerís fire, has many uses. When blessed of God to our soulsí good the furnace is a very helpful place.
A. The Refinerís Fire is A Purifying Fire.
God uses trouble to purge the dross of sin that he hates from the soul that he loves.
B. The Furnace Makes Us More Easily Molded.
The blacksmith beats his iron on his anvil in vain until he puts it in the fire. But the heated iron bends to the touch.
C. The Furnace is A Place of Great Light.
Illus: The Armco Steel Plant.
You will see things more clearly in the furnace than anywhere else
IV. Are There Any Comforts To Be Found In The Furnace Of Affliction?
There are, indeed, many comforts to be found in the furnace of affliction.
A. I am in this furnace By Godís Appointment.
B. That which I am called to suffer has been Measured Out and Appointed to me by my Heavenly Father.
C. I am Assured of Godís Election, even in the Furnace.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
Iíll never, no never, no never forsake.
D. The Lord Jesus Christ is With Me in the Furnace (Phil. 4:4). (Heb. 13:5).
Illus: "The Fourth like unto the Son of God!"
There is another furnace, a furnace of eternal wrath, from which I hope you will flee Ė The only refuge is Christ. Flee to him now!