Trials of Life

 

I.         God knows the hearts of men

            A.        I Samuel 16:7 “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

            B.        Luke 16:15 “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts.”

            C.        God knows whether we have chosen to follow him or to follow Satan -Psalm 139:1-16

II.        Then what is the purpose of the tests that God sends our way?

            A.        If God already knows where we stand, the who benefits from the test?

            B.        We are the ones who benefit.

                        1.         We may claim to believe

                        2.         We may think we follow our Savior

                        3.         But until we have to stand with Him in the face of trial, we cannot be sure.

            C.        But we must also keep in mind that we are free moral agents. We have been given the right to choose - Proverbs 16:1, 9

                        1.         Until a choice is made, where a person stands is not known

III.       Examples

            A.        Abraham’s offering of Isaac was a test by God - Genesis 22:1

                        1.         Hebrews 11:17-18 says Abraham considered the command a sentence of death

                                    a.         He intended to carry it out

                                    b.         He believed God could raise Isaac from the dead, if necessary.

                        2.         God knew Abraham’s faith without putting Abraham and Isaac through this pain.

                                    a.         But notice the statement: “Now I know” - Genesis 22:12

                                    b.         Abraham made a choice and God understood all the reasons and depth behind that choice - Genesis 22:16-18

                        3.         But could Abraham, or Isaac, or anyone else be sure of Abraham’s faith until Abraham raised the knife to carry out God’s command?

                                    a.         We talk about the great faith of Abraham

                                    b.         But we cannot see Abraham’s mind. We aren’t privy to his thoughts.

                                    c.         Rather, we recognize his faith by the deeds recorded for us. - Romans 4:16-25

            B.        God could have delivered the promise land to the Israelites

                        1.         Intact, with no work on their part.

                                    a.         A disease could have wiped out the entire population and the Israelites could have settled in the empty cities.

                                    b.         There would have been no risks of battle, facing the enemies.

                                    c.         But God said it would be little-by-little - Exodus 23:27-30

                        2.         But God wanted each man’s faith tried, so he would know where the land came from.

                                    a.         They wandered for 40 years to be tested - Deuteronomy 8:2

                                    b.         When Israel stopped following God, God withdrew His help. Why? - Judges 2:20-22

                        3.         It could not have been easy facing larger, better equipped soldiers who were fighting to preserve their homes.

                                    a.         They needed to be brave - Judges 3:1-4

                                    b.         Even believing God’s promise of victory, does that mean I will survive my particular battle?

                                    c.         Am I destined to enjoy the promise land?

                                    d.         If God just handed them the promise land, would they have known for sure where they stood and on whom they must rely?

                        4.         Yet, even with their effort, they didn’t earn the land. It was given to them - Joshua 24:11-13; Psalm 44:1-8

IV.      Baptism

            A.        Most of the religious world sees no necessity for baptism.

            B.        After all God already knows the condition of each man’s heart.

            C.        So when we say we believe, is that not enough?

                        1.         Abraham had to act on his faith to show where he stood.

                        2.         Each Israelite had to face the enemy to let it be known where he had placed his faith.

                        3.         We must act on our faith to perform what may seem to be an unnecessary act to receive salvation.

            D.        Abraham could have declared his faith in God from every housetop, but if he failed to sacrifice his son, he would have failed the test.

            E.        We too may declare our faith in Jesus, but if we cannot perform the simple act of being baptized for the remission of our sins, then we too fail the test - Romans 16:25-27

V.        Not the last test

            A.        Our tests only begin with our baptism

            B.        Each day, in many ways, the Christian like the early Israelites must face the daily battle and declare his faith in the Son by standing with him come what may.

            C.        If an Israelite’s faith failed, he may die physically. If a Christian’s faith fails, he may die spiritually - Hebrews 3:14-19

            D.        When a Christian passes the test, he is made stronger. Even failure can show a Christian his true condition, his need to rely on God, and make him stronger - Hebrews 6:11-15

            E.        If a Christian will ask forgiveness and try again, God will make him to stand. In this way, trials purify as fire. - I Peter 1:6-7

VI.      Trials are never easy or enjoyable

            A.        View them as an opportunity to show where we stand.

            B.        To find out where we need more work

            C.        There are some here who have yet to obey God’s calling to become a part of His people. I don’t know why each of you hesitate. Perhaps there is some sin in your life that makes you think you are not good enough. I would rather not know what the sin is, but I do know this: there is no past sin that God cannot wipe out for an obedient child of His and there is no future temptation or sin that is not easier to deal with within His church.