In the Is God Testable? series, I have discussed why it is necessary to test God, what it means to test God, and how to go about testing God. I have discussed the importance that faith plays in the process, why it is necessary to study God so that you can know His purpose, how to study God, where to study God, why fellowship with other Christians is important, how and why to incorporate prayer and meditation into your testing process, and why obedience is the ultimate test of God.
Now it is time to discuss the results. You’ve gone through the steps, and now you want to know if your test is proving God’s faithfulness or not.
Let me say from the outset that if you find yourself doubting, especially now that you’ve gone through the steps in full, that it does not necessarily mean the test has failed. It could mean that you simply did not set out to test God and therefore did not put your whole being into it. That is not a real test.
So, what does constitute a real test of God?
Successfully Testing God Always Leads to Positive Results
First, I’d like to say that a positive result, when testing God, does not necessarily mean happiness and success in life as measured by the amount and value of material possessions you can acquire. A lot of people would have you believe that if you ask God for a Lambo and you make enough money this year to buy yourself one, or you win the lottery, then you have pleased God and are on the right track. Such fortune does not necessarily mean you are on the wrong track, but you should not take it as a sign from God that you have tested Him and come out on the sweet smelling side of the flower shop. Your soul could very well be in danger.
Hebrews 11:1 (Berean Study Bible) says, “faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.” The King James version reads, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” I like that.
Substance and evidence are references to factual information that cannot be disputed. The substance of a thing is its essential nature, the fundamental characteristics that microscopically prove a thing’s ultimate reality. Evidence is a collection of signs or indications that something is true.
In a legal sense, evidence does not necessarily mean that the prosecutor has won his case, but if enough evidence, and the right kind of evidence, is presented to prove a case, then the verdict will most likely land in the prosecutor’s favor. In the Biblical sense, faith in Jesus Christ (the object of one’s faith is just as important as the faith itself) is the substance of God’s promises and the evidence of their eventual fulfillment.
To exercise faith in Jesus Christ, one must proceed as if one believes the promises made on His behalf are true and already proven. Because, in fact, they are.
James 2: 14–19 (Berean Study Bible) says,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that God is one. Good for you! Even the demons believe that-and shudder.
True faith is not merely belief or acknowledgment of some divine reality. It is, in reality, action. Faith, properly understood, motivates a person to act on belief. A man who says he believes in Jesus Christ but behaves no differently than his neighbor who does not is not exercising true faith. Those who claim to believe must show their faith through their deeds. That is, they must show themselves true disciples of Jesus Christ by obediently performing the works of love and service to others that He commanded his disciples to perform when He walked the earth. True faith, properly exercised, always leads to the conclusion that God is real and His promises are true.
How to Know If You Have True Faith
True faith is not carried out by rote. One cannot “go through the motions,” so to speak, and expect to see positive results. There is no sure-fire recipe that leads to the perfect cake. There is no by-the-numbers step-by-step process that leads a person to true faith. No method or systematic exercise of options in somebody’s master plan will ever get you there. True faith is a mixture of knowledge, understanding, passion, and persistent following up on the divine revelation of God as recorded by His human instruments in history.
It is for this reason that I recommend studying God to learn who He is, what He is about, and what He expects of the human race-the crown jewel of His creation.
But I leave you with this warning: A proper study of God must be conducted with a real interest in understanding Him. If you approach it with the idea that you will prove He doesn’t exist or, if He does, then He doesn’t care for the human race, one of two results will happen:
- Either you will learn that you are a fool and change your mind (as other’s have done) or
- You will die a bitter old cynical coot whose life was spent in pursuit of a worthless goal. You’d have been better off just pretending that God doesn’t exist and never giving Him a second thought.
I also encouraged you to fellowship with other believers. This is an important step in the faith process for a few good reasons:
- First, man was created for community. Right from the beginning, God saw that it was not good for man to be alone. God’s divine love nature is best expressed within community. In order to “love others as one loves oneself,” commonly referred to as the “ second great commandment,” one must be in community. To perfect the art of loving others, one must put it into practice. That can only be done with frequent interaction with others, and a Christian faith community is the best place for that frequent interaction because it is often accompanied by encouragement.
- Iron sharpens iron. When two brothers quarrel, bicker, and come to blows, they will still be brothers. In the end, such friction must lead to forgiveness. People learn to forgive when they, and others, fail. Fellowship with other Christians teaches us how to live that forgiveness out in real life.
- God commands it. In Hebrews 10:25, the author writes “Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” The idea here is not that one should never miss a church service. Rather, what the writer of Hebrews is getting at is that one should not leave the fellowship of Christian believers altogether. It is fellowship with other believers that best puts God’s love on display. (For more on this, read my post “ What Hebrews 10:25 ACTUALLY Means.”)
- Other believers hold us accountable. When we sin or fail to exercise faith, other believers can come alongside us, pick us up, and carry us forward. Sometimes, that must be done in a harsh way, but more often, gentleness will get the job done. By faithfully committing oneself to a group of believers who are looking out for your best spiritual interests, you say to God and to man that you are faithfully committed to living what you say you believe and want to be held accountable to it.
- The fellowship of believers is God’s expression of Himself on earth. Jesus said to His disciples when He walked with them: “As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34–35, Berean Study Bible) All through the New Testament, the message of unity and love for one another is expressed as the deepest sentiment and purpose of God. When Christians show their love for each other in the context of daily and weekly fellowship, they are expressing God’s love for Himself and His creation.
Another encouragement I offered through this series is to seek God through prayer and meditation.
It cannot be emphasized enough that prayer is a direct pipeline to God. One of the most important things a Christian can learn is how to pray. Rather than simply asking God for goodies, as a Christian matures she learns that what God really wants is fellowship with His children. True prayer is sitting on God’s lap and falling asleep together. It is the most intimate expression of love between God and an individual. Until you experience it, you cannot know this to be true.
Finally, I encouraged you to be obedient. This comes with one proviso: In order to be obedient, you must understand what it is you are to be obedient to.
This points back to the importance of Bible study, fellowship with other believers, and prayer and meditation. Studying the Bible teaches you about the heart of God. There you will learn who God is and what is important to Him. Fellowship with other believers helps in understanding what one reads in scripture. Older Christian can help younger Christians overcome temptation, share experiences and wisdom, and put the faith into everyday practice. Prayer and meditation draws the individual into closer communion with God Himself. These three pillars work together to help you better understand God’s heart and to learn of His expectation concerning moral behavior. Faith puts it into practice.
So how do you know if you are doing it right? I think you know in three ways:
- Inner joy and peace. In Galatians 5:22–23, the Apostle Paul laid out nine fruit of the spirit. These are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If you see these characteristics growing more abundantly in your life as you put on the practice of faith, this is a sign that your faith is taking root. By contrast, in the same passage (Galatians 5:19–21), the apostle names several “acts of the flesh.” If you find yourself doing more of one than the other, then you should know that you are either moving toward or away from God. If there is any confusion, seek confirmation by asking another Christian. You can also ask God to reveal to you where you are falling short.
- Other believers. True Christian believers have one thing in mind: Pleasing God. They are constantly searching the ways and means of God. If you feel like something is out of order in your life, ask a more mature believer what they see. This gets back to the purpose of fellowship.
- What have you reaped? Bad actions lead to bad results. Is your life in turmoil? Is it because you have made some bad decisions or is it because certain things happened to you that were beyond your control? Be honest. There are all sorts of ways our lives get out of whack because we failed to properly heed God’s warnings or made bad, foolish decisions. If, for instance, you stole a candy bar from the local convenience store and were caught in the act, you might find yourself facing criminal charges. That’s an example of something that happened as a result of a bad decision.
Each of these three ways points back to the pillars of faith. To know inner joy and peace, you must study God and His word, pray and meditate often, and fellowship with other believers. If you want to understand what is proper moral behavior, you must study the Bible, fellowship with other believers, and ask God in prayer to reveal to you how you are falling short.
True wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord, and “knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). I want to encourage you to seek God. Try to understand His plan and His purpose, and align yourself with it.
Allen Taylor has been walking (and wavering) with the Lord for 28 years. He has served local churches as a Sunday school teacher, a small group leader, a worship leader, a prayer group leader, and a minister of the Word. His journey isn’t over yet, and he still needs discipling. “I am Not the King” is a personal testimony of how Jesus Christ has worked in my life. It is available at Amazon and Smashwords.
Originally published at https://thecrux.substack.com.