Summary: It’s easy to say that we love God, isn’t it? As long as we don’t probe any deeper than that. But the Bible does probe deeper than that, & it asks more questions than just that one. (Powerpoint available - #226)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at email@example.com and request #226.)
A. I’m not thrilled about taking tests, & I’m glad my years of schooling are behind me. At my age the tests I take now are stress tests & EKGs & hearing & vision tests. And I don’t have to study for them.
ILL. A friend of mine is 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. My friend recalls, "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. Perhaps one of the most vivid tests in the O.T. involved Jonah. God gave Jonah a test & Jonah failed. Instead of going to Ninevah, 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, not for God’s.
ILL. We read in the N.T. that God tested Philip the day that Jesus fed the multitudes. And 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, as long as we don’t probe any deeper than that. But the Bible does probe deeper, & it asks more questions than just that one.
I. ARE YOU IN THE FAITH?
A. Look at 2 Corinthians 13:5. Paul is writing to the church at Corinth, to people who claim to love God but who are having a lot of problems getting along with each other. He says, "Examine 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?"
Do you remember ever reading that verse before? Maybe it is one that you read, but didn’t stop to think much about what it says. So it really doesn’t sound familiar.
But 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.
B. I don’t want to fail that test. I don’t want to come to the end of my life & discover that I’m not “in the faith.” I certainly don’t want to be one of whom Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:21 when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”