Articles & News

Why God Tests Us

January 29, 2020 Feb2020_mcgee article

by Dr. J. Vernon McGee

Does God test us? But why? That’s the question Dr. J. Vernon McGee answers in this excerpt from his booklet, Tested and True: Lessons on Faith from God’s Classroom

God has put down certain guidelines that give us an idea of why He permits trouble to come. Here’s one of them.

God Allows Trouble to Prove the Genuineness of Our Faith

When ore is tested to prove it is gold or silver, the assayer puts a fire under it, pours acid on it, and then determines whether it is genuine.

Likewise, God puts faith to the test to prove it is genuine. As someone said, “The acid of grief tests the coin of belief.” When some hardship hits in your life, your faith will be put to the test. Will you trust God? Will you lean on Him rather than lean on your own understanding? Will you become sweeter or bitter? James said, “knowing that the testing of your faith….” God tests our faith that we might know it is genuine.

False Faith Walks Away

When our Lord began His ministry, He met a group of folks who expressed a faith that proved to be false:

Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs [miracles] which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. -John 2:23-25

Did He suspect them? He surely did. He knew their belief was not genuine because He “knew all men.” When a time of testing came for them, their faith proved false. Our Lord said to them later:

“But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. -John 6:64-66

The ones who walked away couldn’t stand the test, so they left Him. Then our Lord turned to His own disciples and asked them, “Do you also want to go away?” Simon Peter, answering for them, replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Their faith was genuine.

David’s faith was also tested. I imagine him as an old man reflecting back over his life. He remembered how God had led him. That’s when he wrote Psalm 23. Only a man who had been tested could write “the Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). An inexperienced man who knew nothing about life could not have written that statement. But David could, because his life and his faith had been tested in the fires of adversity.

The Apostle Paul was also really tested. He was told from the beginning, when he was first called to follow the Lord, that he was going to be tested:

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” -Acts 9:15, 16

Paul’s faith was tested by the Lord. When he wrote to the Galatians he said:

From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. -Galatians 6:17

He was no young theological professor raising questions about the inspiration of Scripture and the reality of the Christian faith. He was a man who knew.

My friend, if your faith is genuine, God will test you to prove it. The church today is filled with shallow and superficial saints. Why? Their faith has never been tested. I read a book by a brilliant theological professor. He was a clever fellow, but you couldn’t help reading insecurity between the lines. I suspect it’s because his faith had never been tested. He put his faith through all kinds of mental gymnastics and made it perform like a trained elephant. The only trouble with that is that faith is not a trained elephant, nor is it lived out on a mental trapeze. It must walk the streets of life in order to be real, my beloved. Faith must be tested; if it’s not, then it is impossible to know for sure whether or not it is genuine.

We hear a lot from so-called intellectuals who question the Word of God. They raise all kinds of questions. Why? Their faith has never been tested. When your faith has been tested, you don’t argue about it. Once a man has taken his ore to the assayer—it’s been taken through the fire, the acid has been poured on it, and it’s been beaten—do you think he’d waste even five minutes arguing with anybody about whether or not his ore is genuine? He knows it’s genuine, because the test has been made.

My beloved, faith needs to be brought out of the ideal atmosphere and taken down to the streets where we live and move and have our being. God wants our faith to be tested in our lives. That is one of the reasons why He gives us an entrance exam of suffering or tragedy.

My Turn

  1. Consider your life in Jesus. When has the Lord tested your faith? Is He testing it now? How are you different as a result?
  2. Meditate on Hebrews 12:11. Dr. McGee used the Amplified Version: For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose].