(THIS ARTICLE IS DEDICATED TO RICK WARREN, PASTOR OF SADDLEBACK CHURCH)
“If these are your quizzies, I’d hate to see your testies”.
That was the punch line of one of Mr. Alcatraz’s many funny stories. Mr. A. was my hilarious math teacher in High School back in Portland, OR, where I grew up. He used to have pop quizzes, which he would call “quizzies.” And for students like me, whose worst subject was math, these “quizzies” were tough. Hence, the kid who yelled from the back row.
Life Is A Test
One of my favorite chapters from Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life, is chapter 5 titled Seeing Life from God’s View. He says:
“When you understand that life is a test, you realize that nothing is insignificant in your life.”
I think what makes this chapter especially meaningful to me is that, as a Campus Minister, I’m surrounded by 20,000 college students cramming for finals twice a year.
In an effort to better appreciate this life metaphor, I once asked the guys in one of my discipleship groups, four simple questions regarding the tests we take. Here’s what they said to the first three:
1.) “What is a test?”
- A test is an opportunity to consider various options and to act on one of them.
- A test is synonymous for an examination, evaluation, or inspection.
- A test reveals or proves things such as our knowledge, trustworthiness, readiness, or faith.
- A test often prepares us for greater responsibilities.
2.) “What tests do we take?”
- Driving tests.
- Inspections at work.
- Physical fitness tests.
- Sports tryouts.
- Fraternity initiations.
3.) “What makes some tests more important than others?”
- The higher the stakes, the greater the importance of the test. A quiz that’s worth 5% of your grade is not as important as a final that’s worth 50%. The quality of a doghouse built to protect your pet from the weather is not as important as the quality of a suspension bridge built for people to drive across. The stakes are higher when performing brain surgery than when dissecting a frog.
- Moreover, things with eternal ramifications are more important than those things that are temporary.
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. Walker Percy said:
“You can get all A’s and still flunk life.”
There Are Tests That Come FROM GOD
- God tested Abraham (Gen. 22:1-2; Heb. 11:17-18).
- God tested Moses & the people of Israel (Deut. 8:1-3, 16).
- God tests OUR hearts (Proverbs 17:3).
God tests us because:
- He wants to give us the opportunity to love Him, to trust Him, and to follow His leadership.
- He wants to know our hearts.
- He wants to teach us.
- He wants to help us grow.
- He wants to prepare us and use us.
- He wants to bless us and reward us.
There Are Tests That Come FROM SATAN
- Satan tested Job (Job 1:9-12).
- Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1).
- Satan tested the church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:10).
Tests Come In Many Forms:
- Peer pressure.
- Unanswered prayers.
- Situations at work.
- Dealings with money.
- Competing worldviews.
Often times people try to identify the sources of a test. They’ll say:
“I feel like I’m being tested. Is this test is from God or from Satan?”
To this I reply, “Yes.”
If we are being tested by God, Satan cares what we do. If we are being tested by Satan, God cares what we do.
So it is with new appreciation that we read James 1:3-4, 12:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.” “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.”
OUR FINAL EXAM
From what I understand of the Christian worldview, after we die, we will all stand before one of two thrones:
1.) The Great White Throne of God – (Rev. 20:11-15).
2.) The Judgment Seat of Christ – (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10).
The Great White Throne of God is for people who have not been reconciled to God.
There, God will judge people for their sins…who HAVE NOT chosen to follow Jesus as their leader and trust him as their forgiver. This judgment will determine WHERE they spend eternity.
The Bible encourages us in 2 Corinthians 13:5,
“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves.
Surely you know that Jesus Christ is in you;
if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.”
The Judgment Seat of Christ is for people who have been reconciled to God.
There, God will judge people who HAVE chosen to follow Jesus as their leader, and trust him as their forgiver. This judgment will not determine where they spend eternity, but HOW. In other words, in the new heavens and new earth, there are rewards that can be gained or lost based on how people lived as followers of Christ.
The doctrine of eternal rewards is taught throughout the Bible. One of the key passages is found in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Check it out.
- This first judgment is based on JESUS’ merits.
- The second judgment is based on OUR merits.
Two books that opened my eyes to this reality are:
I’ll wrap this up by sharing the fourth question I asked the guys in my discipleship group:
4.) What do you do when you’re approaching an important test?
- You prepare yourself in advance.
- You rearrange your schedule.
- You change your priorities.
- You practice.
- You read books, browse websites, interview people with experience.
- You get a study group of friends to encourage and hold each other accountable.
- You do whatever it takes to arrive at a point of confidence.
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Photo by: gariox13