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Bible verses about Tests and Trials
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 4:29-31

Hebrews 4:2 clarifies that they heard the gospel as it applied to them; it was good news. They would be freed from slavery and be taken to the land of their forefather Abraham, which would be given to them. When they heard this, all they had to do at this time was to give their mental assent that they believed. How much overcoming had they done? None. God had already set His mind He would save them, and all they had to do at this point was to agree.

What they heard was good news—it was fantastic good news—until Pharaoh turned up the heat ,and their joy of hearing the good news turned to affliction and persecution. This was part of God's purpose, too, because what they were experiencing—the combination of believing and then receiving a test—was beginning to show a difference between Israel and Egypt. A kind of sanctification, a setting apart, was taking place. In this part of the process, it was more difficult for the Israelites than it was for the Egyptians, and in the Israelites' estimation, it was greater than they could bear. This difference intensifies throughout the plagues.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unleavened Bread and Pentecost


 

Job 2:10

Should a Christian allow himself to bemoan God's goodness even during a trial? When Job's wife wanted him to curse God for bringing trials upon him, Job expressed the right principle of God's universal goodness and fairness when he rebuked her for grumbling.

There are times when we may feel like God is not treating us fairly. Job points out that, as God's creations and recipients of His generosity and benevolence, we have no right to complain when He allows us to be afflicted or tests us through hardship.

Martin G. Collins
Fear the Lord's Goodness!


 

Psalm 7:9

How does God get knowledge? God tests the hearts and the minds. He creates circumstances and puts people to the test.

In I Peter 2:12, Peter speaks about people glorifying God in the day of visitation, which means "inspection," that is, their inspection by God. Why does a person inspect something? Because he wants to find out about it.

When a person goes to buy a car, he inspects and evaluates it. He will look at the tires, the engine, the interior, and condition of the body. He will test-drive it to find out what it will do so he can decide whether to buy it. We do the same with clothing, a house, and every major decision in life. We gather information so that we will know what to do with our lives.

God does the same thing. Now we can better understand what the ramifications of this are. There are times that God does not know for sure what people will do! He puts people to the test and watches to see how they respond.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 5)


 

Psalm 145:18

The question is, "How near?" This question has to be asked because many times we feel that God has gone way off somewhere. But how near is He? We have to ask this because the Bible describes Him as a God who is both far and near; He is both at the same time.

He is far in recognition of His sovereignty and of His position in relation to the rest of the creation. He is far above us in that regard. He is over all and directs and controls everything, always with His overall purpose in mind.

If we desire to have a good relationship with God, we will have to take this last factor into consideration, because it affects our lives. He does everything with His overall purpose in mind. There are occasions when He may be "unable" to act in our behalf on one of our requests of Him, because other people's situations whose lives touch on ours must be resolved first. A clear example of this is the book of Job.

Job was totally unaware of what was being worked out through, around, and about him. Even Satan was having something proved to him by God, because He challenged him. In the vernacular of today, God said to the Devil, "Okay, Satan. See if you can break Job. I challenge you to see if you can break him."

Satan could not break Job. The man stood his ground, even though he got battered mightily in the process, not really understanding what was happening. He undoubtingly appealled to God, but He could not answer because other things were being worked out through, around, and about in Job, of which he was totally unaware.

Job was not privy to the conversation between God and Satan, nor to the fact that God was putting him through this in order that a book be written of his experiences, which could not be written until the episode had resolved. So Job had to go through a great deal of discomfort, pain, and emotional anguish while the whole situation played out. For a while, God was a God from afar.

Now that we have more understanding, and the Bible is complete, we realize that He was also a God who was near because He strengthened Job so that he could resist the temptations of the most powerful being to tempt mankind. Job stood up just fine.

Because this book has been written, and because Job endured this, we now have a clear picture why, at times, bad things happen to good people. We can also see that this book of Job shows that God has faith in us too. It does not work just one way. God was working from afar, with His overall picture in mind for mankind, and God was also working nearby.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 6)


 

Ecclesiastes 3:12-14

Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “There is a time for every purpose under heaven.” But is the timing right or wrong, bad or good, suitable or unsuitable, ugly or beautiful?

It depends on who chooses the timing. Paul writes in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” God set the time for this to occur. It was not happenstance; the timing was fitting. Mark 1:15 shows the same principle: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus means that the time God set to preach the gospel had been reached. Matthew 26:18, 27-29 contain similar thoughts: The timing of His crucifixion and even the timing of when Jesus will drink wine again was set. Mark 8:31 reveals that God set the length of time Jesus spent in the grave too.

Acts 1:6-7 adds an important fact:

Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”

God has sovereignly set the times, including appointing the times for our trials too. Are not times set by men for school tests? The proctor says, “You have 40 minutes, then the test is over.”

Understanding this principle helps us to grasp Solomon's conclusions in Ecclesiastes 3:12-14. Some translations contend that the last phrase is best read as “that men should stand in awe before Him.” When will that take place? It will not truly occur until after the resurrection. Of what will we stand in awe? We will truly admire many things about His glory, but after going through these experiences with Him so closely involved in our lives, what will really strike us with mind-numbing awe is what He has been able to create of us.

God's timing is always good, right, and appropriate. It is up to us to use our faith in Him to remain in a good attitude, using the time that He has set for us to grow, overcome, and meet the responsibilities our trials impose. We deal with nothing as continuously as time. Every day, from the moment we wake up until we go back to sleep, we are watching time, setting times, meeting schedules, calculating how much time we have, etc. This highlights that everything matters because we have only so much time.

While our time is limited, we can live in faith and hope because of the overall message of this magnificent chapter: God is in control of time all the time.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Three): Time


 

Daniel 11:31-35

We have been warned that this is coming. There is always the possibility that God will not require that of us, and that He will take some—perhaps all of us—to the Place of Safety. Whatever the case, we need to take advantage of the time given to us to take the opportunity to stand firm in these days of training—our lives right now, when we are dealing with smaller tests of life—so that, when truly dangerous conditions arise, we will stand firm.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part 4)


 

Malachi 3:3-5

If we put this purging into a different metaphor, it means getting rid of the leaven (see I Corinthians 5:7); here people are being purged of sin. God shows that He will use persecution to purify His people through the testing of their loyalty. We know that our loyalty is being really tested all the time, but a time is coming when it will require a great deal more intense conviction about what we believe. This becomes very important because His purpose is to entrench these beliefs into our character.

If people are truly convicted regarding their beliefs, they will conduct themselves far differently than if they are unsure. It is right here that this point becomes important—super-important really—because the dross of cowardly believers is going to be removed. That is what Malachi 3:3 is about. It will either be removed or else. That is very sobering.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part 4)


 

Philippians 3:7-12

Why do we have to go through this suffering? For the same reason that Christ did. Verse 10 gives the answer, "that I may know Him." In what way? By the experiences of going through the same kinds of sufferings He went through. We gain intimate knowledge of what it took for Him to do what He did even though our tests, trials, and sufferings are considerably toned down so that we can bear them. It is almost as if we are given a little taste of walking in His shoes.

That is why we are here and that is why we suffer. There is very good reason why we have to go through it. If we do not, we do not really know Christ. He Himself says in John 17:3 that eternal life is to know God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Wilderness Wandering (Part 5)


 

1 Thessalonians 2:4-5

This was written to Christians. God tests our hearts. He wants to know, to find out, to see for Himself, through the circumstances that He creates or allows to occur, what our reaction will be. He does not assume; He does not presume that He already knows. God tests, and He is watching. This is why He can be a witness.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 5)


 

Hebrews 4:2

God says through the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." God does not want to lose us. Yet, He is creating His holy, righteous character in us. For that to be done, He must put us through tests and, in a sense, take the risk that He will lose us in one of them. He also lets the leash out, as it were, little by little, increasing the intensity of the tests as years go by. In this way, we experience life together with Him.

Herein is exposed the weakness of the Old Covenant. Romans 8:3 tells us that the law "was weak through the flesh." The marriage covenant between God and Israel was entered into before the qualities necessary for a successful union were ever developed in the Israelites. God called the children of Israel out of Egypt, took them to Mount Sinai, and then He proposed to them. In three days, the marriage was entered into, and Israel became God's (see Exodus 19-24). It was a marriage doomed to divorce from the very beginning, illustrating that no person—even one as great as God—can create a successful marriage if the other party does not agree, refusing to walk with them or to conform to recognized standards. Despite God's lovingkindness and patience, Israel never trusted Him! That is what Hebrews 4:2 says.

However, the New Covenant solves this problem! These matters will be ironed out before the covenant is completed, which will not happen until the Marriage Supper of the Lamb—not until the children of God are resurrected. Then two who are "on equal footing," let us say, will marry. They will have experienced life together over long periods of time and will have come to know and trust one another. They will know each other's actions and reactions—the other's mind and heart—and a trust will have been built that will enable the marriage to succeed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love's Emotional Dimension


 

Hebrews 12:4-11

Hebrews was written to a group of people who were fading away in their walk toward salvation. They were going through some pretty difficult trials, but they were not facing up to them. The underlying theme here is chastening. Many modern translations will use the word "discipline," and technically, it is closer in meaning to the Greek word.

Discipline covers formal instruction, but it also includes drill. Drill is associated with learning something repetitively—over and over again till we get it.

Discipline also includes punishment: spanking, rebuke, stern correction. Paul is saying that the sons of God should expect correction and rebuke. God has a way of starting off easy, but the punishment, the rebuke, the discipline become more stern as we fail to respond until He finally gets our attention. This could go so far as the Tribulation.

God's discipline is always corrective. He is not a sadist; He does not discipline for the fun of it. He disciplines us because we need to be turned in another direction. He is removing impediments to our spiritual development, so we do not need to become discouraged.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 2)


 

Revelation 3:10

Because of what will be happening at the end time, "persevering" or "courageously enduring" without compromising will certainly be no small accomplishment. Yet Christ says that because some of His people have been keeping His command to persevere, He will keep them from the worst of it. They have already proved their faithfulness to Him; He knows where they stand, He sees their track record with Him, and He will not require them to experience everything that the rest of humanity will suffer.

In colleges and universities, some professors make the final exam at the end of a semester optional. This means that students take the final only if they need to bring their overall average up. But if a student already has an A from other tests and class work, the professor figures the student has already proved himself, and does not require him to take the final exam.

This approach is analogous to Revelation 3:10. If the Christian is already faithfully persevering and resisting the spiritual foes, God may not require that he endure the very hardest test to prove what is in his heart. He has already proved it consistently through the course of his life. However, if, like a stereotypical first-year college student, he has frittered away his time, becoming involved in matters having nothing to do with college, he will have to prove where he stands. The final exam in this case is the Great Tribulation and Day of the Lord, so it is in our best interest that we students demonstrate to the Teacher that we are serious before the end of the semester.

David C. Grabbe
Who Will Be Kept from the Hour of Trial?


 

 




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