This is a Test

 This is a Test

Remember the anxiety you felt in school when the teacher told you to take out your pencil and paper because you were about to take a test?

Tests were given to reveal how much you had actually learned.

As Christians, we are in a different school, one where we are “learning Christ” and are “taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus”. Nevertheless, this school also has tests.

Ephesians 4:20-24
But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Perhaps you’ve wondered lately, “Why am I being tested? Why is all this happening to me?”

The answer is stated: to see if you have learned “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

If you desire to follow Jesus, rest assured you will be tested for this reason. Head knowledge or Bible knowledge is not enough. Bible knowledge must be practiced or experienced before we are changed in true righteousness and holiness after the likeness of God.

James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because having stood the test that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Don’t let the test make you anxious. The Holy Spirit is present to give GIVE YOU ALL THE RIGHT ANSWERS.

Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, teaching us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

There are three tests common to every Christian:

1. We are tested by AFFLICTIONS AND SUFFERING, both our own and those of other believers.

One of the most difficult things for Christians to deal with is the suffering of the righteous. Up to the time of Christ, Jews associated prosperity and good health with godliness. They believed if you were wealthy, blessed, or in good health, God was with you. This was why the disciples had a hard time understanding Jesus’ statement:

Matthew 19:23-26
Then Jesus said to His disciples, "Assuredly, I say to you that it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Even today there is a mistaken doctrine that says those in covenant with God will never suffer. The popular view of the Christian life is that it means deliverance from trouble.

However, in truth, it is deliverance IN trouble, which is very different.

God does not give us overcoming life; He gives us life AS we overcome.

Furthermore, all the heroes of the faith mentioned in Hebrews suffered, including stoning, torture, and violent deaths.

Hebrews 11:36-38
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

Peter explains to us:

1 Peter 4:12-16
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

Peter adds to this:

1 Peter 1:6-7
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

We must understand that the Holy Spirit is our teacher. And while we are being tested, we may call on Him as much as we want. He will comfort and instruct, but He will not remove the test until we have learned what He wants to teach us. There are eternal truths only He can embed in our hearts through experience and obedience. Afterwards, understanding comes.

You see, when God allows suffering and trials in our lives, He is after one thing. It’s the same thing He was after when He asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. God allowed Abraham to lead Isaac up the mountain and raise the knife above him. It was only then the Lord stopped him.  

What was God after? Simply the answer to this test question: “Abraham, do I mean more to you than the object of your deepest earthly affections?”

I ask you: How well would WE do on that test question?

Abraham proved that he was willing to lay down all that was dearest to his heart—his son, the very object of God’s promise to him—and to put his future in God’s hands. He gave all to the Lord, and God made a promise to Abraham.

Genesis 22:16-18
“By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Does God have all of your life, all that is dear to your heart? After all, you promised to give it to Him when He saved you. If there is still something you are holding on to, you can expect more tests until you learn to give up what you are withholding from God. Testing is time to draw close to God, not to run from Him.

Likewise, we can be tested by the suffering of other Christians. At times, this testing can be the most difficult of all to understand.

Psalm 34:19
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.

We see so many devoted Christians dying before our eyes in the Middle East. Locally, we see our brethren suffering agonizing pain from disease. Why? We pray for their deliverance and healing. It is hard to understand the answers to our prayers. God’s ways are far above ours.

I’ve been around a few suffering Christians in hospitals who had more faith and hope than all the Christians around them who were praying for healing. They were looking forward and had no self-pity. They were not living for this world; they were hopeful and anticipating eternity.

The truth is, those who have suffered and died in faith have received their ultimate healing. For them, it means Christ’s presence in its fullness. Is this what we are looking forward to? This world is not our home and it should have no hold on us. If it still does, you are failing the test.

The Lord wants to plant something in our hearts through all our tests. He wants to increase our faith to where we are able to testify, “Jesus, you are my protector, and I believe you rule over the events of my life. If anything happens to me, it’s because you have a purpose in allowing it. You may have some prepared glory, some eternal purpose that my finite mind doesn’t understand. Nevertheless, I trust you. I am yours!’”

Romans 14:8
For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

2. We are tested by DELAYED ANSWERS to our prayers.

Most of us pray as David did in:

Psalm 102:2
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!

David was saying, “Lord, I put my trust in you. But, please, hurry up and answer!” Doesn’t that sound like us?

However, God is in no hurry.
He doesn’t jump at our commands.
In fact, at times you may wonder if He will ever answer.
You cry out, weep, and fast, but days go by, weeks, months, even years, and you receive not the slightest evidence that God heard your prayer.

Why does God delay answers to sincere prayers? It isn’t because He lacks power. He could merely say a word and the work would be accomplished. And He is most willing, even more than we are, for us to receive from Him. However, He wants to give us something greater than what we are asking for, and we must come to the place where we want Him and His answer more than our desires.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

The Lord is seeking a praying people who are joyful, thankful, and do not get weary of coming to Him. These people will wait on Him; they will be found waiting when He brings the answer.

Anybody can believe when answers to prayer are flooding in.

Who’s going to believe after a year, two years, or three years?

As time goes on, we abandon our prayers and the belief that God will answer, and we move on to something else.

Faith is not built on answers to prayer. Faith is built on trust in God during delayed answers.

Jesus gives us a parable explaining that we are to pray and not to give up.

Luke 18:1-8
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’
“For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’”
And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

We don’t understand the spiritual battle taking place when answers to our prayers are delayed. We don’t understand God’s perfect timing for answering our prayers. We don’t understand the reason when the answer is “Not now”. Delayed answers are test of faith in God.

For most of us, the hardest part of faith is the last half hour, when it looks as if God won’t answer at all. We’re tempted to give up. We think we are surrendering to God’s providence and trusting in His sovereign will. We say, “Lord, do what you think is best.” But, that is not what God desires! When you are praying for what is obviously the will of God—say, salvation of family members—you have every right to hold on and never quit praying until He answers. In His time, the prayer will be answered. Praise Him now while you wait.

Here is part of the reason for the delay: When you enter into intercessory prayer for someone’s salvation, there is a spiritual battle going on between God and Satan for that person’s soul. Ask God to plant the faith of Jesus Christ in you, and in the one you are praying for. Pray for the demonic spirits to be bound and the Holy Spirit to be loosed upon the unsaved to bring conviction and a revelation of Jesus Christ. And keep praying until you see the victory.

Don’t base your faith on what is seen. Our prayers are effective in the unseen realm. In truth, God is already at work, and your faith is being tested. Don’t quit now!

3. We are tested by OUR FALLS AND FAILINGS. Maybe you have taken a fall of some kind—surrendering to anger, lust, unbelief—after years of serving him. You gave in for a moment, in spite of all the years you walked with the Lord. You may think, “I am so unworthy. I haven’t made any progress. Am I still saved? Does God still love me or has He given up on me?”

1 John 1:8-9
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Dear saint, if you have truly repented, you haven’t lost any progress whatsoever. God has allowed that fall to happen so you would see what is still in your heart. Your repentance is progress! You have said you want to walk with God, and He is teaching you. He wants all of your heart, and He will allow you to be tested until He has it all and you become mature.

James 1:2-4
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Not only must our relationship to God be right, but the external expression of that relationship must be right. Ultimately, God will let nothing escape; every detail is under His scrutiny. In numberless ways, God will bring us back to the same point over and over again until we consistently pass the test.

Therefore, the test is an indication that God is not through with you! He loves you and is perfecting you to be the Bride of Christ, a pure and spotless bride without any wrinkle of sin. He is preparing you for eternity with Christ, who is interceding for you and preparing a place for you.

So don’t be discouraged. Learn your lessons well. Take those tests until you pass them with ease. Then use those tests as your testimony of what Jesus Christ is doing in your life.

At the same time, rebuke the enemy when he tells you that you won’t pass the test, or that God doesn’t love you because of the test. Satan will lie to you, and tell you that you can avoid tests, and have all your desires met, if you will just give up following Christ, and become your own god.

Which is Satan in disguise.

The truth is: Satan caused the fall of man through deception. As a result, sin abounds in the hearts of men.

The consequences of sin bring suffering, misery, and death to all the earth. God does not cause these things, sin does. Because God is loving and merciful, He offers us life through faith in His Son, whose death atoned for our sin.

However, faith is more than mental assent. Faith must be tested to be genuine. We act upon what we truly believe.

Tests are part of life, ordained by God, to bring us to Him. The tests are really hard if we don’t have the answers.

However, Jesus Christ is the answer! He will guide us through each test!There is joy and peace during the test when the Teacher is giving you all the answers!

If you don’t know this Teacher, you can today. Acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, who died on the cross to atone for your sin. Repent of that sin and give your life to Him by publicly confessing Jesus as your Savior and dying to yourself in baptism. Then you will be born again of the Holy Spirit, who will give you all the answers to your tests in life.

I realize this may not make much sense to you. It sounds too simple, yet, at the same time, incomprehensible.

That is what one of the brightest Bible scholars of Jesus’ days on earth—Nicodemus—thought. He asked Jesus, “How can a man be born again when he is old?” Jesus explained this was not a physical rebirth but a spiritual birth.

Our unspiritual mind cannot understand this, so don’t try to make sense out of it. Just come by faith in what Jesus has said and done. Give your life to Him and He will supernaturally give you a new life.

Just trust Jesus and come to Him.

Jesus is the only answer.