I had no problem reading textbooks and writing papers. As a student, the matter that concerned me was always the quizzes and tests. You had to know what to prepare for and even then there was no guarantee the studying of the material would result in acing the exam. Looking back, I do understand the benefits of taking a test. A test can be an indicator of one’s comprehension of the material. Similarly, Christians can take a test to evaluate if they are truly saved. Just as a test reveals whether someone has studied the material or not, taking a spiritual test is examining the evidence to evaluate whether someone who professes faith is a genuine Christian. What is the content on this test? The content is believing the essentials of our faith and living a particular way of life.
A genuine Christian is one who believes Jesus is the Christ and who loves the children of God as an overflow of their love for God. The order of this test is a minor issue either. On a test, sometimes I would start with the last question and work backward. On this test of faith, we cannot work backward. We must begin with discussing our belief. On this exam, we see “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (5:1). The test does not merely state the evidence of our faith as belief in general. The test of our faith is centered on our belief of Jesus Christ. Our belief in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of our sins is the means by which we are born again by the grace of God. We cannot earn our salvation. To be born of God means God opens our eyes and hearts to what Christ has done in His sinless life, His substitutionary death, and His life-giving resurrection so that we respond in repentance of our sins and trust in Jesus as the Christ who has saved us and who is Lord over us. How do we know we have responded this way and have been born of God? Another section of the test informs us, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (5:4–5). An indicator we have been born of God is that we are not defeated by the hostility of the world and we do not follow the course and ways of the world. Evidence we are Christians is we turn from following the world and we follow Christ. Our faith in Christ is what equips us to persevere and to overcome the world.
As those who have put their faith in Jesus as the Son of God and who have been saved, their way of life is embedded with a life of love. Christians are those who love God, evidenced by their desire to keep His commandments (5:2–3). A Christian’s love for God is extended into love for one another. When we love God, we desire to keep His commandments by loving others in the family of God. In all of this, we ought not see the commandments of God as burdensome but as something that will bring joy to their relationship with God.
As we know the content of this test, our belief in Jesus Christ and our love for God and for one another, we will be able to examine our beliefs and lives to see if we are those saved by the grace of God in Christ. If we do, we can be assured we are the children of God who have been born of God.
- The first section of the exam on the test of faith is our belief in Jesus as the Christ. What do you believe about Jesus Christ?
- The second section of the exam on the test of faith deals with our love and obedience for God leading to our love for another. How have you shown your love to those who are the children of God?