Since school is out for the summer, I thought I would talk about tests! If you were like me, you disliked tests. I would much rather write a paper or have a conversation than take a test. I might even prefer to go to the dentist… maybe. I was never a good test taker, my heart would race, I would start to sweat, and the minute the teacher passed out the test, my mind would go blank. I could barely remember my name. Needless to say, it took years for me to overcome my anxiety about taking tests. The Bible actually talks about tests. There are tests we are to give ourselves, others, and then a test that God will give us.
We are first asked to test our relationship with Christ, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless of course, you fail the test” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Let me ask you, do you know Christ? I don’t just mean know about Him, but truly know Him. For the Apostle Paul, to know Christ was the purpose of life: “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11). Do you know Christ in this way?
In addition to testing our relationship with Christ, we are to test our work, ministry, and service (Galatians 6:4); test what is acceptable to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10), test the sincerity of our love (2 Corinthians 8:8), and test our heart, thoughts, and actions (Psalm 139:23-24). These are the ways we are to test ourselves.
We are also to test others, especially people who teach God’s Word. Pastors are going to be held to a higher standard and judged more harshly than others because of the weight of responsibility they have when teaching the Bible. I don’t want to get too off-topic here, but it is very important that folks who go to church read and understand what the Bible says so that when a pastor/teacher says something that is counter to the Word of God, they can recognize it. Acts 17:11 says “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Every follower of Christ must know their Bibles. In the past several weeks there have been numerous pastors and other Christians who have supported the ruling the Supreme Court handed down about so-called “marriage equality.” They also find nothing in Scriptures which says homosexuality is a sin. If you are part of one of these churches or denominations, you will want to look for a different church. Find one that preaches and teaches biblical truth. I know this is a bold statement, but the authority of God’s Word is not something to question or skirt around. The Bible is very clear on this issue: homosexuality is a sin; marriage is between one man and one woman. If a pastor or teacher says something else, they clearly do not hold the Bible to be an authority in their life for faith or practice. The Bible has horrific warnings for pastors and teachers who teach and preach lies. It also has warnings for elders in the churches that do not hold their leaders accountable for preaching truth. Christians, test your pastors and leaders against the Word of God. Never apologize for demanding biblical truth from the pulpit. I don’t mean to single out homosexuality and marriage because that is just of the many sexual sins the Bible addresses, it is merely the one that has gotten the most attention lately. Pastors and teachers must preach against all sin issues.
The final test the Bible talks about is the final examination that God gives to us. When we die, we will stand before God and have to give an account for our life. There will not be a scale that has all of our good deeds on one side and bad deeds on another where if the good deeds outweigh the bad, we will get into heaven. No. The final examination will contain one question: “How did you respond to the free gift of God’s grace as seen in Jesus Christ?” Did you accept the gift or reject the gift? That is the ultimate question. You see, the just and gracious God of the universe looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the resurrection so that all who have faith in Him will be reconciled to God forever.
Let us prepare for the final exam by saying “yes” to Jesus and living for Him.
Originally published in The Chappell Register on July 16, 2015.