That is a familiar sound in our sanctuary every Saturday night and Sunday morning before our corporate worship services. It is, of course, the sound of the microphone sound check that occurs prior to the praise team beginning to sing. Hearing these words got me thinking about today’s message, and I pray it will be a great source of hope and encouragement for you.
I have written on many occasions that life is both a test and a trust. Today I want to sharpen our focus on the “test” part. This word, taken from both the Old and New Testaments, actually means to prove by trial.
You may remember when Abraham was tested by God. When Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son Isaac, he immediately prepared to do exactly that. And then God said these words:
Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.
Let me ask you this question: Had God just at that moment realized that Abram would faithfully and fearfully follow Him? Of course not! God had ordained it from before the foundation of the world. It was God who had granted Abraham that great faith! But Abraham did not know what he would do until he was confronted with this almost unimaginable test of faith.
This is similar to the scene in the Garden of Eden after the fall of man. Adam was hiding in the Garden and God called out, “Adam where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Had God “lost” Adam and did not know where he was? Of course not! It was Adam who did not know where Adam was. After Adam rebelled against God, he was lost. Instead of walking in the cool of the day with his God, he was on the run away from Him, hiding in the bushes.
I can’t imagine anything that paints a starker picture than this: Adam failed his test; Abraham passed his.
So we see that God will test His children. He will allow the devil test us as well, just as Jesus Himself was tested in the desert by Satan, but you and I must remember that test will only go to the extent that God allows for His glory and our good.
Job lived out this truth. Satan told God the only reason that Job loved and obeyed Him was because of all the good gifts God had given to him, and that if he, Satan, could test Job he would prove it. Well, under the sovereign watch and care of God, Satan tested Job, taking away his health, his wealth, and his children. Yet, throught all of it, Job remained faithful to God, saying, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25). Job passed his test.
We should not fear the tests we are put through, the test God has promised us (Philippians 1:29). The psalmist tells us that our testing refines us like silver (Psalm 66:10). James tells us to “Consider it pure joy” when we face these trials, because our testing “develops perseverance” which will grow us up into Christ (James 1:3). Peter explains that we will experience trials “so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
King David actually sought the testing of God.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
David actually wanted God’s refining fire to clean away the spiritual dross in his life and leave only a golden faith in God behind. We can run, as Jonah did, but we simply cannot hide from God. Growing up into Christ requires that we leave our “comfort zones” and move into areas that are very uncomfortable. This is where God tests us and proves to us, so that we know we are truly His. And remember this: God will not allow us to be tested beyond what we can bear, because the power of Christ is at work within us to strengthen us and encourage us.
Testing One-Two . . . Testing One-Two . . . What say you?
By the way, I’m sure you’re aware that today is “Black Friday.” Perhaps that is a test for all of us—as we are running around town looking for the best deals—to keep the main thing the main thing . . . and His name is Jesus Christ!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!