This is one of the essential appointments of our Lord in His mediatorial mission--the office and work of a Refiner and Purifier of His Church. Redemption involved more than deliverance from the guilt and condemnation of sin; it equally secured our emancipation from sin's tyranny and power--our sanctification as well as our salvation
, a fitness for, equally as a title to, glory. It was not enough that Christ should purchase the "Field"--the world--for the sake of the "Pearl"--the Church; but having found the precious jewel, it is His purpose to mold it into a coronet of beauty, wearing it Himself until 'the end comes' when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to His Father, and then shall His redeemed Church be a "crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of our God."
It is a consolatory thought that our refining is in the hands of Jesus--the hands that were pierced for us on the cross. Lord, let me ever fall in Your hands, whether You correct, or rebuke, or slay, and not in the hands of man, for very many and very tender are Your mercies. My soul! your Refiner and Purifier is Jesus. Jesus shapes all your trials; Jesus sends all your afflictions; Jesus mingles all your sorrows; Jesus shapes and balances all the clouds of your pilgrimage; Jesus prepares and heats the furnace that refines you as silver and purifies you as gold. Then, O my soul, tremble not at the knife that wounds you, at the flame that scorches you, at the cloud that shades you, at the billows that surge above you--Jesus is in it all, and you are as safe as though you had reached the blissful climate where the vine needs no pruning
, and the ore no purifying, where the sky is never darkened, and upon whose golden sands no storms of adversity ever blow or waves of sorrow ever break.
And, O my soul, what deep need is there for this refining and purifying of your Lord. What inward corruption, what carnality, what worldliness, what self-seeking, what creature idolatry, what God-dishonoring unbelief, imperatively demand the searching, burning, purifying fires of Christ's furnace! And this is the end of all--to take away your sin, and to make you a partaker of the Divine holiness.
And mark the Refiner's position. "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." It would be fatal to his purpose did the smelter and refiner leave his post while the liquid mass was fusing and seething in the furnace. But there he patiently sits, watching and tempering the flame, and removing the refuse and the dross as it floats upon the surface of the molten ore. So Christ sits as a Refiner; and with an eye that never slumbers, and with a patience that never wearies, and with a love that never chills, and with a faithfulness that never falters, watches and controls the process that purifies our hearts, burnishes our graces, sanctifies our nature, and impresses more vividly His own image of loveliness upon our soul. If He places you in the fire, He will bring you through the fire
, "that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." But sweet and soothing is the truth that the believer is not alone in the fire. The Refiner is with us as with the three children passing through the burning furnace kindled by the king. The Lord will have us polished stones; and as some believers are more rusty and some more alloyed than others, they need a rougher file and a hotter furnace. This may account for the great severity of trial through which some of the Lord's precious jewels are called to pass. Not less dear to His heart are they for this; it is said God had one Son without corruption, but no son without correction; for "though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered." Look up, my soul, your Portion is your Refiner. Be still, humble, submissive. The knife is in a Father's hand, the flame is under a Savior's control.