Summary: Testing our relationship with Jesus - how do we know that we are walking with him?
We Are Jesus’ Friends
Grant S. Sisson, MSCP, CI
I’m not thrilled about taking tests, & I’m glad my years of schooling are behind me. The tests I take now are stress tests & EKGs & hearing & vision tests. And I don’t have to study for them.
ILL. In undergraduate study in college, it is common for teachers to assign a term paper. Ours were usually from 1000 words to maybe 2500 words in length. We would study like crazy to put together enough research material to write that much, and it was a major ordeal if you waited too late in the semester. Procrastination would kill your chances for success.
But when I went to grad school, there was one professor who really loved assigning papers. We had to write a 2500 word paper, not for the entire semester, but one EVERY WEEK for the whole semester! She took the idea that grad school is supposed to be rigorous to the extreme!
I heard a story of a guy who was convinced that one of his College professors really enjoyed giving tests. He didn’t give just 6-week tests & final exams. He gave his students a test every single week without fail.
On one occasion he gave a very difficult test. You could tell that by the groans of the students. And as one question followed another, the groaning got louder.
Then, after the test was finished, each student was told to grade his own paper. This guy said, "He read us the correct answers & to my dismay, I found I had scored just 65 on the test. In other words, I failed the test. And I thought, ‘This will ruin my grade point average for the whole semester!’"
But just then the professor said, "Now I’m not going to record the grades of this test. I gave you this test for your benefit, & not for mine."
B. You know, at times God does the same thing. In fact, all the way through the Bible you’ll find God giving that kind of a test.
ILL. God presented Abraham & Sara with a wonderful gift in their old age, their son, Isaac. But later, God tested Abraham. He said, "I want you to take your son Isaac, & offer him as a sacrifice on the mountain."
Now, this test was for Abraham’s benefit, not God’s. God already knew Abraham’s heart, & He knew that Abraham loved Him. But God wanted Abraham to know just how far he was willing to go in trusting God - & Abraham passed the test!
ILL. Not everyone did pass their test. God gave Jonah a test & Jonah failed. Instead of going to Nineveh, as God had directed, Jonah fled in the opposite direction. And it was not until he was caught in the storm & then in the belly of the great fish that Jonah repented & God was able to use him. The test was for Jonah’s benefit, to reveal to Jonah how strong his faith was, not for God’s benefit.
ILL. We read in the N.T. that God tested Peter on the seashore after the resurrection, when Jesus asked him, "Do you love me, Simon? Do you really love me?"
APPL. Now how about you? If you were asked, "Do you love God?" how would you answer? I imagine that most of us would answer, "Why, yes. I love God."
It’s easy to say that we love God, but I’m going to probe deeper than that. (1)
The last sermon I brought to you was the day before my father passed away, and I brought up the question, “How do we know that we are walking with Jesus?”
So I bring your attention to 2 Cor 13:5 this morning. Here Paul in his loving but sometimes rather stern way demands an answer to the question – Is Christ in you?
“5Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”
Let’s look again at what Paul is saying, "Examine yourself. Give yourself a test: Are you in the faith? As a Christian, if Jesus Christ lives in you & His Spirit affects the way you think & speak & act, then the answer is ‘Yes.’ But if the way you speak & act shows that Jesus Christ is not living in you, then no matter how much you may say you love God, the answer is ‘No,’ & you have failed the test." I remember I John 4:19-21: “19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”