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I well remember that one of my high school teachers would often announce a pop quiz at the beginning of class: “Put your books and papers under your seat, and place only a pen or pencil on your desk.” When this happened, we all knew that we were about to find out if we really knew the subject matter.
All of us have had our education, knowledge, and skills tested in numerous ways throughout our lives. Testing is a means of objective assessment. As long as the testing instrument is not flawed, testing is a means of fair determination.
Many have heard an auditorium sound system being tested—someone stands at a microphone saying, “Testing, testing, one, two, three,” or something similar, in order to determine if the system is working correctly. Another familiar test is that of the Emergency Alert System on television and radio, which was established to provide United States presidents with the means to address the American people in case of a national emergency. Periodic testing ensures the readiness of the system and familiarizes the public with its use.
Did you know that Almighty God tests His servants, so as to know the state of their hearts and minds? He did this with His chosen people, the ancient nation of Israel, even as they came out of Egyptian bondage (Deuteronomy 8:2).
Abraham is, perhaps, the most notable example of a servant of God being tested at a level none of us would want to experience. God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, an heir of promise for whom he had long waited (Genesis 22:1–2). Abraham was obedient to his Creator in this matter and trusted that God would be faithful to His promise, “In Isaac shall your seed be called” (Genesis 21:12; Hebrews 11: 17-18). Once God knew that Abraham believed Him and would obey even in the face of such a trying command, God stopped the ancient patriarch at the last moment, saying, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God” (v. 12).
Again and again, God tested His people Israel to see whether they would obey Him or not (Deuteronomy 8:2; Exodus 16:4). “The righteous God tests the hearts and minds” (Psalm 7:9) and “tests the righteous” (Psalm 11:5). God told Jeremiah, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10).
God is still testing His people today to know what is in their hearts and minds. The Apostle Peter said that followers of Jesus Christ would experience trials to test the genuineness of their faith (1 Peter 1:6–7). The Apostle James encouraged the brethren to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:3).
Some students learn that a “self-test” is an excellent way to find out how well they know the subject and to know whether or not they are ready to take an exam. Research has also confirmed that one effective way to learn new material is to test yourself by asking yourself questions about the subject you are learning. Self-testing will reveal what you know—and, perhaps more importantly, what you don’t know.
This ancient wisdom is found in the Bible. For instance, in 2 Corinthians 13:5, the Apostle Paul told the church, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.” And in 1 Thessalonians 5:21, we are told to “test all things; hold fast what is good.”
Here is a simple self-test: Ask yourself, Do I know the Lord? The answer is found in 1 John 2:3; “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” And, in case someone asks, “Aren’t the commandments ‘done away’?,” be sure to read our free study guide The Ten Commandments to find out. Study it with your own Bible. Then, test yourself!
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