As long as I can remember, “tests” were to expose flaws. Spelling tests were to show you the words you didn’t know. Maths tests were to show you the equations you couldn’t complete. Fitness tests were to expose the weaklings. Character tests were to determine what needs some refinement. Tests were disliked, and weekly tests were dreaded from the moment the previous test was completed.
But that is not how faith tests work. There is one faith test that works that way—2 Corinthians 13:5 talks about a self-test that each must take to see if truly in the faith, but even there, Paul was expecting them to pass, not fail. But all the other faith tests—the tests given by God to true believers—are tests that confirm a certain quality, not tests that expose a certain flaw.
Hebrews 11:17 speaks of Abraham’s great test of faith, a test which he passed with shining excellence, if you remember the account in Genesis 22. A few verses later, in Hebrews 11:19 we see the quality of Abraham’s faith that was put on display for all the NT Christians to see: Abraham had faith in God’s ability to perform resurrections. That is not something very obvious in the rather lengthy account of Abraham’s chronicles in the book of Genesis. But when the test in Genesis 22 came, then everyone knew Abraham’s faith was much more developed that simply “I will have a land and a son”. The test of faith confirmed exactly how detailed Abraham’s faith was.
In James 1:2-4 another test of faith is mentioned. This one is not as unique as Abraham’s one; it is common to all believers. Christians are naturally joyful because of what Christ has done for them. But when Christians demonstrate joy during difficult earthly trials, then they are confirming that their faith is not only momentary at conversion, but endures all things. The words used to describe the outcome of the trials-test of faith are words like “steadfastness”, “full effect”, “perfect”, “complete”, and “lacking in nothing”!
1 Peter 1:6-7 say something very similar to James, but add a wonderful picture. The tests of our faith are not like spelling or fitness tests; instead they are like gold tests. The tests of faith are not tests thrown in our face to see how well we perform; instead they are tests in a lab to see exactly what our faith is really like. We enter tests of faith not with a dreaded “I hope I pass”, but rather with a “Finally all can see what God my faith is in!” Peter continues in 1 Peter 1:8-9 with salvation being the outcome of the test of faith. God eventually delivers us all those with faith from this sin-cursed world—that is the outcome of our tested faith.
In Revelation 2:10 the test of faith includes prison. All around that test you find, not words of threats or dread, but these words: “Do not fear” and “I will give you the crown of life.” The test of faith is simply the path towards the crown of life.
Our times are times that test our faith. This is not a time to hope you do OK, but rather a time to run confidently to God, look around at this world, and exclaim to the world “Keep watching, my faith is in God!” Like Abraham’s test, your test of faith will show others some of the lesser known details of what you believe. Like the Christians James and Peter wrote to, your test of faith will confirm just how much you can endure. So in the words of Revelation, do not fear, for at the end of your test of faith, you are going to get a crown that proves your faith was the real deal!
We feel at times like tests of faith expose our weaknesses and spiritual failures. We don’t enjoy tests of faith. And there is always some needed growth that takes place during the trials that test our faith. But we need to change how we enter tests of faith. Tests of our faith confirm that our faith is in a God Who has never failed anything and Who has no flaws. We’re going to pass; indeed, we can proceed as though we’ve already passed, because the trophy has already been engraved—by faith in Jesus, the crown of life already has your name on it.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.Galatians 6:9