Test everything and keep what is good says St. Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:21). To the Corinthian church he writes, “Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ is in you –unless, of course – you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 12:5)
This week, one of the leading Christian magazines, Christianity Today, published a lead article analyzing the evangelical world. The surprise of the article was that many evangelicals, those who claim that they believe the Bible, hold heretical beliefs. Among the heresies that some evangelicals hold are doubts that Jesus is God and even a higher percentage which believes that the Holy Spirit is strictly a force, but not God.
It seems that in every sphere – in k-12, in college, and in post-graduate work, we have moved away from testing. It seems that the sciences and mathematics are the only subjects that still test the knowledge of their students by giving tests. Instead of precision, we are told that we should test creativity. I remember Nicky Gumbel, in the Alpha Bible Series, talking about a student who came from his exam and after listening to his friend talk about a multiplication table said, “Lord, only once, let 7 x 7 be 56!”
In seminary, I teach church history and dates, names, events, movements, and definitions are indispensable. Many students are amazed that after one semester or one year, they can memorize, they can test, and achieve perfect scores. They are amazed because they were told that they cannot memorize early in their education. They were anti-test in their high schools or even chose their college professors because they never tested their knowledge.
In comparative religion classes, I ask my students, “Where is Buddha?” Most of my students respond, “He is dead!” I follow that by asking, “Where is Mohammed?” “He is as dead as Mohammed!” “Where is Jesus?” Some of the students respond, “He is at the right hand of God the Father.” Where else is Jesus? Jesus promised to be in us. The presence of Jesus is what He promised to us, because being a Christian is not strictly having a set of principles and convictions, but having a relationship with the living, ever present Jesus christ.
Paul had his encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus. He went there to persecute the followers of Jesus and then he heard this voice, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” That is when Saul understood that Jesus Christ lived at the right hand of God the Father, but he also lived in his church. Later on, Paul is able to say, “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) and more completely, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
How do I test myself to find out if I am practicing the Christian faith? The simple answer is for whom do I live? If I no longer live for myself but for Jesus, if I do not seek my honor and prestige, but the honor and prestige of Jesus, if I do not seek my will and my Kingdom, but the will and the Kingdom of Jesus, than I am excelling at the God-given test.
Have you taken the test? How are you doing?