Physical test for medical situations are important. Many lives have been saved, and unnecessary, invasive surgery has been avoided because of early testing, and the necessary treatment.
It is very common, in the fields of dentistry and medicine, to have routine examinations or tests to ensure that nothing untoward is developing undetected. It would be remiss of individuals, especially the aged ones, if they ignored their yearly or bi-yearly visit to their clinic, or did not attend when their doctor requested them to do so.
All of this is very much standard fare. One's physical health is very important, and it would be foolish to gamble with it, and run the risk of unnecessary pain, prolonged suffering or even premature death because of our negligence.
It is quite amazing how some believers are more careful with their physical health, more concerned, more finicky and thoughtful than they are with their spiritual existence.
The truth is that we should be concerned about both, but let's face it, the physical, with the utmost care and attention that you give it, will perish after a few decades, but the spiritual, whether you care it well or not, speaks to eternity.
The Apostle Paul was so mindful of this, and I think he saw something that troubled him, that he cautioned Timothy, "For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." (1 Timothy 4:8)
Godliness is profitable, says Paul, so to make sure that it is genuine, founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ and Apostolic doctrine, believers are required, yea commanded, to do some serious, compliance testing. It is because godliness can be fake, empty and ultimately useless, that this testing is required. Here is Paul to Timothy again, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (2 Timothy 3:5)
Believers have a critical role, in examining for themselves, if what they are being fed is the proper manna from heaven, or some lookalike, a placebo that might appear pleasing but underneath is corrosive and deadly.
On Paul's second missionary journey he met with, and converted, many Bereans to Christ, and notable among these Bereans were their laudable efforts to test everything they heard, to see if it complied with the scriptures. This testing was systematic and thorough and the Bible recorded it thus: "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11)
The Bereans searched the Bible meticulously, to test the truthfulness of the doctrine they were receiving at the hands of the Apostle Paul.
Can believers today do any less?
The outstanding scripture, that endorses and commands this thorough testing, is by another Apostle, this time John, and here is how he counsels us: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) The Greek word for try is dokîmázô, and when translated into English means "to test".
So, because they are so many falsehoods going around, so many false prophets trying to deceive believers, we are told to do some serious testing, so that we may arrive at the truth. It is important to remember that the end product of our testing is to acquire truth, because it is truth, in particular "the truth" that enlightens and liberate us: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
Whenever we deal with a subject like testing, we are going to be bombarded with a tsunami of ideas, and tests, that people consider useful, and others may even recommend.
Not all tests produce the required results. Sometimes a multiplicity of tests is required, and by looking at all of them proper conclusions can be drawn.
This is also true as far as spiritual tests are concerned.
In order to be sure that I did not miss any efficacious tests, I trawled the internet to see what they had in store. In addition, I then resorted to my favourite Bible commentaries, and the results were overwhelming.
Here are twenty out of the dozens of tests I found:
By the Spirit which he gave us, we know that he abideth in us
Everyone that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God
Do they believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven?
Do they believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ?
Do they believe that Jesus is God Almighty?
Do they believe that Jesus is the Son of God?
If we love one another God abideth in us, and his love is perfected in us
Because he has given us of his Spirit, we know that we abide in him and he in us
Confessing Jesus as the Son of God abides in him, and he in God
Do they believe that Jesus died upon the cross?
Do they believe that Jesus was buried, and rose again physically after three days?
Everyone that does his will is begotten of him
Do they believe that Jesus ascended bodily into Heaven after His resurrection?
Do they believe that it is Jesus' blood, which takes our sins away, and not just the death of Christ?
Do they believe in the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit?
Do they believe that Jesus is a member of the Godhead, equal in every capacity?
Do they believe that Jesus is perfect, never having sinned?
Do they believe that Jesus existed in pre-existent form, before He came to the earth?
Believing that Jesus is the one, is begotten of God
If we keep his commandments, we love God
Think about this. If someone came to your door and was pushing a dubious doctrine, would you remember the 20 tests I listed above? The chances are virtually nil, and even if you could remember them, could you recall the precise scripture that goes with each?
The plain truth is that although the list mentioned above have some merit, it is too unwieldy for its purpose. There are hundreds, even thousands, of tests, but are they what is required?
In order to rebut false prophets and false teachers, believers have at hand three simple tests that are very effective, and quite easy to remember. (Similar to Jesus distilling the ten commandments into two Matthew 22:40)
First test. Are they of God?
There is a big difference between people who are of God and those who merely purport to bring something from God. People who profess to bring something from God have been deluding people since the dawn of Christianity.
The people of God can and do take the hard knocks, suffer for righteousness sake, toil in adversity and under great stress, and still glorify and honour Almighty God. No false prophet or bogus preacher or counterfeit teacher will ever suffer for Christ; no matter how they are schooled in the scriptures. Remember that all scripture is from God, but Satan used scripture in an attempt to destroy Jesus, as he did successfully with Eve.
God does not anoint devils to minister, so when you detect their devilry, you should know that they have failed the test. Alas, even when these false prophets fail the test some believers still continue to trust them; leaders like David Koresh of Waco infamy and Jim Jones of Peoples Temple are typical examples.
Second test. Is what they are offering for my spiritual betterment?
Every born again Christian belongs to the household of faith. This is important, for whatever one does with respect to the household of faith, it should be for its betterment; whether teaching, preaching, counselling or anything else. God has made it clear why gifts are given to individuals, "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:12)
You should know whether something is providing real spiritual food to make you grow, become a better believer, and draw you nearer to God, or not. Is the agenda God-centric, am I being challenged to make a greater commitment to God, is my spiritual life being refreshed and invigorated, and is everything geared to God's honour and glory? If not it has clearly failed the test.
Third test. What says my spirit?
Remember that every Christian is baptized with the Holy Spirit, and it is by this that we know we belong to Christ. Here are some scriptures to affirm this, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:" (Romans 8:16), "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." (Galatians 4:6) and "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:" (John 16:13)
God, through his Spirit communicating with our spirit, always gives us the right answer. There has never been a case when God does otherwise, but believers have to develop a listening ear, and pay attention in order to benefit, and then always do as God directs.
The still small voice that Elijah heard on the mount (1 Kings 19:12), is still speaking today, and it is fitting for us, when all else fails, to have this reliable resource, right by us and in us, as well as going before, leading the way and leaving us in no darkness whatsoever. Ultimately, this is the supreme test, and because our soul is precious, and worth saving, since it is more valuable that all the world's gold, then we need to make sure we possess God's Holy Spirit.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013