Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Does God Test Us?

Okay! I am struggling with something. How can a loving God who cares for us so much and does everything to show us how much He loves us; how is this God able to test us? And what if we fail the test? What Then? Is that the end of our relationship with Him? What about his unfailing love? Why would He test our hearts if He already knows our hearts? What if Father allows us to go through hardships and storms so that we can depend on Him, period? Would you call (that) a test? So that we would trust Him in our hard times or is He testing us and waiting to see if we DON'T trust Him, what then?

These questions keep piling up in my head, and I just need peace about this! It is sitting in my spirit so uncomfortably. Am I losing sight of God if I don’t believe that Father ‘tests’ us for the sake of a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ grade?

Scriptures I found that relate to this!

1 Thessalonians 2:4

On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted by the gospel. We are not trying to please people, but God, who test our hearts.

James 1:13

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me,” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed.

So maybe I am confusing tempting and testing to be the same thing. Does that even make any sense? God doesn’t tempt us but tests us?

I need some insight! Any thoughts?!


Walking Church said...

Great honest stuff there Nic!

Any one who has actively sought after the deeper things of God has wrestled with this bear.

Here is what I believe; it is my medicine and not meant to be the super bullet for others.

When we come to times of trial, suffering etc there can be a couple of explanations, but at the end of it Father/Abba's purest love is most apparent and yours for Him will have grown exponentially.

I believe He permits this stuff which we don't like much to come into our lives to usually bring ourselves to the end of ourselves. Meaning there is something that is in our lives that needs to be removed in order that He may have Lordship firmly establish. Father is above all things. We as children tend to forget that. I find it is sometimes something that we love or value more than Him...a habit, money, a person, a possession...Abba will lovingly do whatever it takes gently remove it and you will be drawn closer to Him.

Times of Silence, when you 'feel' like you are not being loved by Him or 'feel' like His presence is far...it is an opportunity for Him to look at your reaction. Remember 'feelings' are usually deceivingly...you have to look to scripture (specifically your identity in Christ) to know the truth. For instance, does God ever leave you; answer is no (not always B Joel); Scripture tells us He neither leaves us nor forsakes us as well as it tells us that Jesus is our life (Col. 3.3-4; Gal 2.20); so what you feel is a lie compared to what God has promised.

Satan loves to play the 'feelings' card...it is imperative to 'know' what God says about you and who you are in Christ for this is truth.

The other thing, I have seen is that Abba seems to go silent, or removes something and He then looks for a reaction.

Do we go running to our friends or do we jump up on His lap and tell and show Him our deepest hurts?

Do we quickly forget what He has done for us in the past and believe He will not sustain the present? Meaning, Do we have confidence in His past track record and character. The correct answer, again not unnecessarily B, is one that builds up your confidence in your Daddy.

Nic, do not see it so harshly as a test, there is no pass/fails...they will be re-writes all the time until you draw your last breathe. Each exam is always a pass! Abba will not let you fail...you can do it time and time again (this is what I believe is meant by being transformed into the image of Christ)...I know I am all over the map on this one...but your questions will cover a great deal of geography...giggle.

Be confident, jump up on His lap and show and tell your bo-bo's! No scratch is too small. He is building His confidence in you and yours in Him..

Joel Brueseke said...

I'm in agreement with Alvin here. While the answer is always B in the context of the specific questions I ask on my blog posts of that name, there are many different ways to look at this question!

To add to what Alvin said, I'm thinking of Hebrews 12 where it talks about us enduring discipline from our Father, because that means He is treating us as legitimate children. It is a blessing to be disciplined and tested by our Father. Tests and discipline should never be confused with punishment, because our sins have been punished once and for all.

The tests in life are not given for a grade and they're not given for our Father's benefit either. It's not as if He doesn't know our hearts ten million times better than we do! They're given for our own benefit, so we, again as Alvin said, are drawn closer to Him in the end, and into a more trusting relationship. I believe He wants us to dig our roots deeper and deeper into Him and to be secure in Him.

And as Heb 12:11 says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

To me, this is one of the many facets that God has taught me about growing in grace. It's not instantaneous. It's not all flowers and roses - because there is a lot of flesh to overcome, by the Spirit, and sometimes it can get a little messy!

That said, I know far too many people who go around thinking every little bad thing in life is a test, or they even deceivingly take it upon themselves to create their own tests - for themselves, or for their 'flocks' - which is completely unnecessary.

I think the main thing is to remember that our Father is for us; He is not against us. Anything and everything He does in our lives is ultimately for our good, and He knows exactly how to go about bringing good into our lives!

Bino B. Manjasseril said...

I am not sure if 'testing' is the right word to use because it could mean a lot of things. I am more towards the word 'disciplining'. Yes, our Father disciplines us. Thats one of the component of a Father-child relationship and I think it is important note that we all need discipline. When we think about the word 'discipline' the first thing comes to our mind is behavior modification. Well, I don't think God is interested in modifying our behavior, He is more interested in our 'heart'. I just finished a post in my blog called 'Miracle or myth', in it I touched little bit on this as well. I like the verse Joel quoted

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

If you have ever prayed a prayer (dangerous prayer) to use you for the purposes of God, expect 'discipline'! It may not seem pleasant, and most likely some pain involved, but once you come through it you are more transformed into the image of Son.

bob said...

Hi Nicole

3 good blogs to take to heart.

One thing I have learned about testing is that God does test me BUT only so I know where I'm at.

God already knows where I'm at but I don't. I think I do.
I might think/believe, for instance, in the case of money (you noticed I picked one that nobody here has a problem with) that I trust God for all my finances. I might even tell (actually bragging low key)my buddy Alvin or Joel or Bino or you that, "Finances, oh yeah, I just trust God, He looks after all my finances, I never worry, He will always come through for me" (notice the "for me").
I can guarantee that in a day or two or a week or two my finances will be in the dumper (again), I'll be looking to see what I (notice the "I") can do to fix the problem. Get a part time job, cut spending, maybe get a loan from Alvin for 10 or 20 million.
Then, all of a sudden, I realize where my faith in God is. It's nowhere, my faith really is in me to make enough money to pay my bills (most of which I wouldn't have had if I'd listened to the Holy Spirit in the first place - I really didn't need the Rolls-Royce, a Ford Taurus would do).

I know of no other way that God can really show us where we are at.
At this point I can thank God that He has already forgiven me for not trusting Him and ask that He teach me how to trust Him more (which, of course, opens me up for more testing).
I hate to tell you this part but I am 60 years old and I now know that this is the way it will be for the rest of my life. Maybe you will learn to trust quicker than I do.

Learning to trust

bob said...

I forgot to mention about the pass/fail thing. There is no pass/fail. There is only pass.
Jesus died on the cross so you and I would pass. If we can fail then He lied when He said, "It is finished" and He died for nothing except a great idea.

Thanking Jesus for my pass.

Nicole said...

When I struggle with stuff in the Bible, I tend to forget about the Grace that Father gives in and through the scriptures, like the ones I mentioned and a lot of other ones. It is so easy to slip back into old religious thinking when I read. I was really dealing with grace and the burden of religion last night when I was doing some studying on how Father tests us. It was almost like what I was reading was trying to change what my heart was telling me, and I know Father lives in my heart so I know it wasn't just me being uncomfortable about some religious thoughts trying to make its way through my heart again. Its like growing up hearing things, like, when your going through the valley, God is testing your faith to see if you will trust Him. But it always sounded like He was just waiting for me to mess up and keeping a close eye on me.

I know it takes real discernment to work this out, but what is most important to me is not forgetting how much Father cares for me and loves me through the deepest darkest hours, but it is so easy to slip out of His hands when the heart is fearful and in the process of relaying on other sources for comfort.

I know He desire's His best for me and I can't forget that, but the word 'test' has never really fit in my spirit that well. I don't like the word frankly, but that doesn't mean that God doesn't test our hearts, so if the bible says that He does, He does and that is that. However, I guess there is another way to look at it.

Gentlemen, you all are amazing and all of what you guys say is exceptionally true with soft and understanding hearts behind every word. Thank you for listening and helping me through this!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Walking Church said...

Hey Nic:

These bros...are in some ways Elders...I would not dismiss their words lightly, it has taken these bros..many years to learn these lessons...you are so fortunate to take advantage of past heart ache...sounding too Father-ish I suspect...but don't be too quick to dimiss what the Brethren has spoken here. Spoken in His Love.

Especially, know that Father is absolute Love....Jump up on His lap and enjoy your time!!!

Aida said...

Nicki, you said you don't like the word "test." Well, then, let me give you a different one to use instead of the word "test" that is used in 1 Thessalonians 2:4. It's not a word I made up but I looked it up in my Greek-English New Testament to see how it is translated there. The word it uses is the word "proving" or "God, who proves our hearts."

I like how Bob said it. He said, "God does test me BUT only so I know where I'm at." I believe that's correct. It's for our benefit and not His. He knows where we are, we don't.

Also, the others have said that Father's testings are not really pass or fail. I agree with that. I believe the educational system in the nation with its pass/fail method of testing has conditioned us to believe Father works this same way.

The purpose of true testing is to show us where we are so that we can improve those weak places. In Father's kingdom, it's meant to show us where He's working so we can cooperate with what He's doing.


Laurie said...

Nic, you have always hated tests and exhibited test anxiety when it was time for one. Consequently, with your homeschool curriculum, I mostly let tests slides since I was so closely involved with your education and knew where you were in your subjects. I only made you participate in the tests that were absolutely required of us by the school/state authorities. I'm sure that probably left you ill prepared for all the tests you faced in college but you actually did quite well with those. (I won't get into the math aspect tho ;)

Thinking about all that bought to mind how Satan asked God if he could test Job. (I see an analogy here Satan/State ;) I mostly hear God bragging on Job -- he knows him well and has a relationship with him (even if he later has a few words of correction for him during the course of the hard times to come).

What if God had said, hell no Satan, get away from Job. I know the end from the beginning and he's doing just fine and will do just fine and he don't need no stinkin' test. We wouldn't have such rich insights to draw from as this book brings out. Job's friends are chastised when their accusing words cast a shadow on both Job and God's characters. I see God's commitment to Job in the midst of the trial -- he really never leaves him or forsakes him -- it's just that Job is so focused on his misery that he sometimes is unaware of God's watchful presence through it all. And then after all is said and done God asks Job to pray for his friends and blesses him even more.

Also, Satan is the one who tested Jesus after his 40 day fast. It wasn't the Father testing him but the Father had to allow it (just like in the case of Job) or Satan couldn't have touched him. (Think back to how Jesus was protected from being killed when he was a baby or child. The enemy was not allowed to find or touch him.) I love that Jesus always clung to the truth of the Word and the true character of God when he responded to the Liar. Jesus was not deceived by any of the enemies enticements or subtle undermining of God's character but kept his focus on the faithfulness of his father.

(Sorta thinking out loud here -- hope it made sense in where I was going with this.)

bob said...

Hi All

Laurie, thanks for the memory jog.

Notice what Job says in verse 5.

1 Then Job replied to the LORD :
2 "I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.

3 You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.

4 "You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.'

5 My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.

6 Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes."

"My ears HAD HEARD OF You, but NOW my eyes HAVE SEEN You".

Would that indicate Job was different after his "test" than before? Was he better or worse for the "test"?

Another Job

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