The following is adapted by permission from “Kingdom Encounters,” a seminar with Tony Evans, held at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, July 15-16, 2021.
When you were in school, and you were preparing to go to the next grade, you had to take a test. For most disciplines, there was a midterm and a final. They carried a lot of weight in terms of the final course grade and going from one grade level to the next.
When God wants to take us to a new grade level in our knowledge and experience of Him, He will give us an exam.
Heaven will be, at its core, the uninterrupted experience of God. Earth is the interrupted experience of God. On Earth, our experience of God is interrupted by sin, circumstances and what is happening in the world.
What God wants us to do along the way is to grow in our experience of Him—tied, obviously, to our knowledge of Him. One of the primary ways, perhaps the primary way, is when He gives us an exam.
One of the big exams we see in Scripture is the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. We read, “Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you’” (Genesis 22:1-2, NASB).
So, we’re told right off the bat that this is an exam—a test.
When push comes to shove and you have to choose God over something you are committed not to lose, that’s tough. That’s a test.
Many of you know what it is to be in a Catch-22 between what you know God wants and what you want.
It could happen in a marriage that you want to get out of, but you don’t have Biblical grounds, and you choose Him.
It could happen as a single, when you’re tempted about a relationship that is out of the will of God. You long for companionship, but you choose Him.
It can happen in economics, where the deal would be very profitable. But there would be an integrity question, and you choose Him.
That’s final exam stuff. That’s when your faith is being tested at a high level. When obedience is completed and you pass the final exam, God knows how to bring you to the next spiritual level in your life. He wants us not to be satisfied with information but to pursue an encounter—where I get to have Him call my name. Where He speaks, and I know He is talking to me. ©2021 Tony Evans
The Scripture quotation is taken from the New American Standard Bible.
Tony Evans has served as the senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship for over 40 years. He is a bestselling author and a frequent speaker at Bible conferences and seminars across the nation. For more information, go to TonyEvans.org.