We want much more of God in our lives. Yet in our quest for mo0re, we certainly don’t want to open ourselves up to stuff that is not of Him. Neither the licentiousness of the Corinthians, nor the legalism of the Galatians, will do anyone any good. Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light, as do his followers, and so things are not always as they appear.
The Biblical injunctions towards testing are numerous. Paul commended the noble Bereans for examining the Scriptures carefully. John encourages us to test the spirits, because not all are from God. Jesus taught us that we’ll know the false prophets by their fruit. Encouragement towards watchfulness should thus not be misconstrued as judgmentalism. Rather, it speaks to responsible leadership.
Herewith, then, a handy quick-reference ten-test toolbox, easy to understand and simple to apply.
- The Bible Test: Does what is under consideration fall within the bounds of the broad sweep of Scripture? The Bible as we know it is the canon of Scripture, a term derived from the idea of a measuring rod, of which the Bible is a very good one indeed. So, can we consider what is happening to be integral to the whole counsel of God?
- The Gospel Test: Is what is under consideration an expression of the New Covenant, i.e. a salvation that is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone?
- The Father Test: Is what is under consideration loving, as is our Heavenly Father, who always acts for our good? Or is someone getting used, abused, manipulated or controlled?
- The Son Test: Is Jesus being afforded the highest place? Is He the focal point?
- The Spirit Test: Does what is happening witness with the Holy Spirit who indwells my spirit?
- The Kingdom Test: The kingdom of God is a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Is what is under consideration producing these, or is it generating the likes of confusion, insecurity, fear and anxiety?
- The Time Test: This one’s about fruit. Does what is under consideration have a track record in other places and at other times in church history? If so, what was the fruit like then? And if it has no such track record, and we give it the benefit of the doubt, what fruit is it bearing now?
- The Saints Test: What do other mature, discerning saints make of it, and why?
- The Humility Test: Are those who are propagating whatever is under consideration doing so in humility? Are they walking in transparent submission to the saints they are serving? Are they happy to be questioned and comfortable in this accountability?
- The Intelligibility Test: Can the simple saint and the new believer understand what is going on? This last test is the plum-line for Gnosticism (special knowledge). Does what is under consideration create an elite inner core, or is it easily accessible to all?
Not all ten of the tests will be equally applicable to every situation that could possibly arise. Some speak more to doctrine; others speak more to practice. Some are more objective than others. Nonetheless, as a toolbox to tap into when occasion requires it, these will serve you well.
Christianity is not rocket science. Little children can understand it. A dollop of common sense is all that’s required to remain with our feet firmly on the solid ground of Jesus and His perfect saving work. No other foundation will ever be necessary, and everything built upon it is either gold, silver and precious stones, wood, hay or stubble.