A Test of Faith
May 1, 2022
More than 30 years ago, I walked out of a classroom and building, and crossed the street to head to the school-owned apartment in which Raye Jeanne and I lived. It was a pleasant early May day, with bright sunshine and moderate temperature. As I crossed the street, I distinctly remember thinking, “I have taken the last exam I’ll ever take…” No more tests, no more cramming for finals, no more papers or book reviews. One or two nights later, I was reading a book I didn’t find beneficial and I thought, “Hey! You don’t have to read this — no one is going to ask if you’ve read it!” And I put it down with great satisfaction.
I had arrived at my happy place — learning and feeding my intellectual curiosities without testing.
How wrong I was. I didn’t realize it then, but I likely read more now than I did in seminary — and I write “papers” every week, and there is a final every Sunday morning — and any other time I teach. And then there are a wide variety of questions from people that I am expected to know and be able to give guidance.
And there are the other tests of life — what will I say when I am defrauded or criticized?, how will I respond when unexpected bills arrive (like a vet bill, medical, expense, or car repair)?, and what will my attitude be when I don’t get what I want — when desires are unmet (which will happen)?
Trials are inevitable. Difficulty and problems are various and frequent. There is no time in the spiritual life when we can expect ease and escape from tests and trials. How will we respond? The goal (as Hebrews 11) teaches us, is to respond in dependent faith on God, trusting that He will see us through the tests and take us to His heavenly kingdom. In Hebrews 11:17-19, the writer provides instruction about responding to tests through the life of Abraham:
Spiritual tests are inevitable (and planned by God). When tested, continue to respond obediently to God’s direction for you.
The example of Abraham reveals three aspects of our tests:
- The Reality of Testing (v. 17a)
- The Answer for Testing (vv. 17b-19a)
- Obey God’s Precepts (vv. 17b)
- Remember God’s Promises (vv. 17c-18)
- Be Confident in God’s Power (v. 19a)
- The Reward in Testing (v. 19b)
Download the rest of this sermon on Hebrews 11:17-19.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.