"Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)

Trials of Faith Reveal the Authenticity of Faith

by Stuart DiNenno

Faith must be tested before the authenticity of it can be known.

Consider the case of Abraham. He was justified by faith, but His faith was not said to be known until he demonstrated his obedience to God in a very demanding trial:

“And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” (Genesis 22:10-12)

The angel from heaven only declared to Abraham that his faith was known to be authentic after he was severely tested by being required of God to sacrifice his son and he demonstrated his obedience to the command, and this was a very long time after Abraham first had been called by God and after he had spent many years sojourning through strange lands. Similarly, it is when professing Christians have been in the faith long enough to be put to the proof by the LORD and we know that they have steadfastly endured difficult trials, that we can say with confidence that there is a true fear of God in them.

Not that we should assume those who have not yet endured a trial are false Christians. Quite the contrary. It may be many years before true Christians and their churches are tried. In the Bible we are told that Abraham possessed faith and was justified with God long before the genuineness of his faith was pronounced to him during the distressing event described in Genesis 22. If we see someone who appears to be faithfully adhering to the truth and obeying the commandments of God in His everyday life, then we have no reason to believe that his profession is untrue and we should welcome him into our fellowship.

However, although God already knew, of course, that Abraham’s faith was real, He saw it necessary to try that faith for Abraham’s own benefit, and to declare directly to him (and indirectly to us) the authenticity of his faith when he passed the test. This is the point where his faith is explicitly said to be known. Likewise, it is after we have seen Christians or churches faithfully endure trials that we can say with confidence “now I know…”

Every true Christian should expect to see rigorous trials of his faith at some point (or points) in his life, and many other Bible passages and the words of esteemed theologians could be quoted to reinforce the point. It also is important to understand that the overwhelming majority of today’s so-called Christians and churches do not ever endure trials because they compromise with the world or shrink back from standing against evil long before they are put in the position of having to endure trying circumstances.

So if anyone comes to me asserting the godliness of another man who has been a professing Christian for many years, or declaring the faithfulness of a church with which he is affiliated and that has been in existence for decades, the first question I will ask him is “What price has he (or they) paid for his (or their) faith?”

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