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January 27, 2013
Tests of Faith
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. (1Peter 1:3-9)
Paul said of those who belong to God, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2Corinthians 5:7; see also, Hebrews 11:6 and Romans 5:1). But, as Peter reminds us, sometimes our faith is “tested by fire.” James also tells us that these tests produce endurance so that we may be “lacking nothing” (James 1:2‑4). The Bible is filled with characters whose faith was severely tried so that we might learn how we too might be tested.
Our Faith Is Tested When That Which Is Commanded
Seems Contrary To Reason.
Noah was told to make an ark (Genesis 6:13-22). How contrary to reason was that? There had never before been a flood, but Noah had the facts given him by God. Moses was told to take a serpent by the tail (Exodus 4:1-5). To most that doesn’t seem a reasonable thing to do, but Moses knew that God was speaking with him.
To some, the creation of everything, the virgin birth, the resurrection, or the end of the all creation may seem unreasonable doctrines. We accept them by faith. We have the facts that God has given us (Genesis 1:1ff; Matthew 1:23; Acts 26:8; 2Peter 3:1-13).
Our Faith Is Tested When The Thing Commanded
Appears To Be Wrong.
Abraham was commanded to offer Isaac for a burnt offering (Genesis 22:1-13; Hebrews 11:17-19). It seemed an odd and even wrong thing to do, but he knew what God had promised. Peter was charged to “kill and eat” (Acts 10:9-16,28). This seemed wrong to Peter. He had to learn the lesson that God cleanses. Disciples are to “hate father, mother, etc.” (Luke 14:26; see also Matthew 10:34‑39). Disciples must know the lesson of sacrifice.
Our Faith Is Tested When We Can See No Connection Between The Thing Commanded And The End Sought.
The Children of Israel were to march around Jericho (Joshua 6:1‑21; see also Hebrews 11:30). This was not a logical battle plan, but they knew that God was with them. The man born blind was to wash the clay made with Jesus’ spit in “the pool of Siloam” (John 9:1-7). What an odd medical treatment! Jesus did this so that men might see the works of God. We are to be baptized “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mark 16:16; 1Peter 3:21). From a physical standpoint, this doesn’t make sense, but we obey because we know what the end result really is.
Our Faith Is Tested When God Commands Something Which Is Contrary To Our Personal Preference.
Naaman was told to wash seven times in the Jordan to be cleansed of leprosy (2Kings 5:10-14). Again, what a strange treatment! He followed through with the instructions because he was reminded that he knew what to do even though his own preference was to wash in another river. The Jewish rulers didn’t want to be thrown out of the synagogue because they “loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43). They knew better, but they yielded to their personal preference. Many prefer human authority to that of Christ, the social gospel to the gospel of Christ, or carnal entertainment to spiritual worship (Matthew 28:18; Romans 1:16; John 4:24). Shouldn’t we all know better?
Our Faith Is Tested When We Are Commanded To Do Something That Seems To Be Hurtful To Our Own Welfare.
The Widow of Zarephath was commanded to give her last meal to Elijah (1Kings 17:8-16). The Samaritan took care of the victim of robbers (Luke 10:30-37). These people put others first because they understood priorities. We are to seek the kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33). Can we not see and know what God has promised? Do we trust?
Our Faith Is Tested When To Do God’s Will
Endangers Our Personal Safety.
Daniel and his three friends risked their lives to be faithful to God (Daniel 3:6). They knew the requirements of the one whom thy served. The apostles were told by an angel of the Lord to go speak in the temple (Acts 5:20). They put themselves at risk because they knew the truth. If we lose our life for Christ, we “shall find it” (Matthew 16:25; see also Acts 20:22-24; 21:10-14).
Our Faith Is Tested When Obeying God Means
Turning From The Religion Of Our Fathers.
The good king Josiah destroyed the idols of his father and grandfather (2Chronicles 34:1-7). Paul abandoned the traditions of his fathers to follow Christ (Acts 22:3-16; Galatians 1:13-16; see also Philippians 3:4-9). In the first century, those who received the gospel of Christ either turned from “the Jew’s religion” or from vain idols (Galatians 1:13; Acts 14:15). When we know the truth, will we follow it or say, “This is the way Grandpa did it”?
Our Faith Is Tested When Following Christ
Means A Great Financial Loss.
The rich young ruler was not willing to pay the price of following Jesus (Matthew 19:16-22). But many early Christians were willingly despoiled of their possessions (Hebrews 10:34). They knew that there was something more lasting. Because of our faith we may lose our job, be demoted, or not advance in our career (Mark 10:28-30; 2Corinthians 6:10; see also 2Corinthians 8:9). Do we truly know and understand where our real treasure is?
Passing the Tests
The testing of our faith should be received with joy (1Peter 1:6,8; James 1:2; see also Matthew 5:12; Acts 5:41). It is for our good (1Peter 1:7; James 1:3; see also Romans 8:28). Those who endure trials receive a crown (James 1:12; 1Peter 1:9; see also Romans 6:22). Do we know the answers? Will we pass the tests?
—S. Scott Richardson Sr.