There are many characteristics of the one, true living God that many are totally unaware of, but of all of them, the fact that God tests us in many different ways, as He did those in Bible days, is perhaps the most enlightening. Though denied by some in our day, this indisputable fact that God tests us was readily known in both Old Testament and in New Testament times:
For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver (Psa. 66:10).On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts (1 Th. 2:4).According to Strong's Concordance, the Hebrew word for "tested" as found in Psa. 66:10 means: to test (espec. Metals); gen. and fig to. investigate: - examine, prove, tempt, try (trial). The Greek word for "tests" as used in 1 Thess. 2:4 carries the following meaning: to test (lit. or fig.); by impl. to approve: - allow, discern, examine, X like, (ap-) prove, try.
To be ever aware of this important fact about God testing us will help us make sense of some of the strange and painful circumstances that Christians sometimes face. How can an all-powerful God, who is love, permit his children to face such situations? The answer is simple, when one realizes that He is a testing God. This means the life we are now living is really a spiritual "test," the very thing that Scripture explicitly states:
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).
We also know from Scripture that the God, who promises the crown of life to those who love him, repeatedly tested the Israelites for different reasons:
God Repeatedly Tested The Israelites
Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them (Exo. 15:25).Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions ...." (Exo. 16:4).Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning" (Exo. 20:20).Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands (Deut. 8:2).He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you (Deut. 8:16).In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah. (Psa. 81:7).Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert (Heb. 3:8).
Make no mistake about it, God does test our hearts:
God Tests Our Hearts
I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you (1 Chr. 29:17).The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart (Prov. 17:3).But, O LORD Almighty, you who judge righteously and test the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause (Jer. 11:20).Sometimes when God tests us the testings can be very mild, such as how to solve a problem:
When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do (John 6:5,6).Or our tests can be much more severe:
I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews (Acts 20:19).[When Paul stated that he was severely tested by the plots of the Jews he was referring to his persecutions (Acts 9:23-25, 29; 14:5-7 cf. 14:19,20; etc.).]
Surprisingly, YHWH, the jealous God tests us (Ex. 20:5; Deut. 4:24; 5:9; etc.) to find out whether we love him with all of our heart:
God Tests Us To See If We Love HimYou must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deut. 13:3).Please note: according to this Scripture, God could actually use a false prophet for this test! [See our article, Deceived by a False Prophecy.] Furthermore, love for God above all others seems to be connected with the test that God subjected Abraham to:
Some time later God tested Abraham (Gen. 22:1).By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son (Heb. 11:17).Abraham's test can only be appreciated when one realizes that Isaac was his miracle child that both Abraham and Sarah longed for and through whom Abraham's ancestry would be blessed. God tested Abraham with him!
Besides the recently cited false prophets, the Lord has also used the devil to put some in prison as a test:
God Will Test In Other Ways
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death (Rev. 2:10,11).Moreover, God used heathen nations to test Israel:
I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their forefathers did (Judg. 2:21,22).These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience): the five rulers of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites living in the Lebanon mountains from Mount Baal Hermon to Lebo Hamath. They were left to test the Israelites to see whether they would obey the Lord's commands, which he had given their forefathers through Moses (Judg. 3:1-4).In Hezekiah's case, God left him to test him:
But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart (2 Chr. 32:31).Job believed that spiritual tests from God come very frequently:
What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? (Job 7:17,18)Job is an example of perseverance (James 5:11). He stedfastly maintained his spiritual integrity and was determined to pass his spiritual tests, even in the very midst of his multiple, painful problems:
But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).At one point in his life, David too was confident that there was nothing sinful in his own heart that would be revealed during any test:
Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin (Psa. 17:3).David also invited God to test him:
Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind (Psa. 26:2).God tests us in the furnace of affliction. As gold gets tested for purity in the heat, God tests people:
See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction (Isa. 48:10).This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, "They are my people," and they will say, "The LORD is our God" (Zec. 13:9).The sinful are also tested by God:Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: "See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people?" (Jer. 9:7).God also tested Jeremiah's own thoughts about Him:
Yet you know me, O LORD; you see me and test my thoughts about you (Jer. 12:3).
Paul wrote about Apelles who was tested, then approved. Please note: one doesn't get approved until he is first tested!
Tested, Then ApprovedGreet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ (Rom. 16:10).Unfortunately, we don't have enough information at this point to know if the test Apelles passed was one from God at a particular time or perhaps from a spiritual leader for some church position such as a deacon:
They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons (1 Tim. 3:10).
The habitual practice of testing things should be done by every Christian, especially regarding teachings that come their way. The standard for truth for all Christian doctrine is the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Therefore, don't receive any teaching that isn't taught in the Holy Scripture:
Test Every Teaching And Every Teacher
Test everything. Hold on to the good (1 Th. 5:21).The Apostle John gives us a specific reason why we should always test teachings that we hear and not just gullibly accept them. This is extremely important for us in our day to take to heart, since much of what comes over the TV, radio, in books and on the internet does NOT line up with the Holy Scriptures! One prime example of this is the teaching of once saved, always saved. John wrote:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).Besides false prophets there have also been false apostles that have plaqued the church. Certainly, many have been deceived by them over the years (Mt. 24:11, 24; 2 Cor. 11:13; etc.). The Lord Jesus commended a church group for testing those that claimed to be apostles and found that they were not (Rev. 2:2). There are also false apostles in our day that need to be identified, so that their deceptions won't spiritually hurt people.I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false (Rev. 2:2).
One of the benefits of our faith being tested is that it develops perseverance:
Testing Develops Perseverance
Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance (James 1:3).The developement of our perseverance, when our faith is tested, is assumed, if one doesn't fall away after he believes, as Jesus taught could happen. Jesus taught against eternal security, which is also a test in itself:
Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away (Luke 8:13).
As mentioned earlier, persecutions are tests. Sometimes these tests, through persecutions, can come in verbal form or by being excluded from the company of others:
Testing Through Various Persecutions
Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets (Luke 6:22,23).Since all of mankind naturally desires to have the acceptance and approval of others, such forms of persecution, such as being excluded or insulted, can be very painful and severe at times! Therefore, loneliness to some degree is a guarantee for all who faithfully live godly, since this is a ramification of being excluded.
THE LAST GENERATION, BEFORE THE RETURN OF CHRIST, WILL BE UNIVERSALLY TESTED:
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth (Rev. 3:10).According to Scripture, a test is coming for all who live on the earth. This test referred to in this verse is more directly detailed in Revelation 13 and 14. To be more concise, a world ruler, called in the Scriptures, the antichrist (1 John 2:18), will be given power to conquer the saints. At that point in time, the powerful prayers of the saints won't bring deliverance! This point alone is vitally important to remember.
He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation (Rev. 13:7)A mark will be issued at this time that one must have to buy or sell anything:
He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name (Rev. 13:16,17).To get this mark one must worship the breathing/speaking image of the antichrist or face death:
Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed (Rev. 13:14,15).For the Christian, to refuse the mark of the beast, during this test that will come upon the whole world, will require faithfulness to the point of death:All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast -- all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints (Rev. 13:8-10).A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice:"If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus (Rev. 14:9-12).
Dear reader, you have been tested by God throughout your lifetime. In fact, you have probably been tested recently and will again be subjected to some sort of test, perhaps with some pain or discomfort in the near future. But if you are alive during the last generation the ultimate test of faithfulness to God will come through a mark that is needed to buy and sell; but woe to all who fail that particular test and take the mark! This is true even if one was truly saved before he took the mark! [See our article on the Mark of the Beast.]
The Ultimate Test
Scripture clearly gives us the formula for victory at this time of testing:They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev. 12:11).The final end of the antichrist (known also as "the beast") and his companion in evil deeds, the false prophet, are clearly given:But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Rev 19:20).Please note: the people who receive the mark of the beast will be deluded to do such through miracles! Specifically, some of the miracles are fire coming down out of heaven (Rev. 13:13) and a statue of the antichrist speaking (Rev. 13:15)! Dear reader, all miracles are NOT from God! Some miracles do come through demons (Rev. 16:14). [See our article on Miracles -- Two Sources.]
In conclusion, God tests mankind frequently. That means this life is a test (James 1:12; Lk. 8:13; Rev. 2:10,11; etc.) and only the overcomer will inherit the kingdom, while all others will be thrown into the lake of fire:
In ConclusionThen I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Rev. 21:1-8).
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