You just can’t skip the test!

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Approved Christian workers can’t skip the test!


Imagine if your doctor confessed that while he did go to medical school, he never bothered taking any of the tests or exams. He just sat in class, took notes, opted to skip the tests and start his practice without a diploma or an internship. Would you trust in his untested training without verifying if he really learned something? Isn’t that what many seminary graduates do? They may take theological tests to verify if they know their Greek, church history and hermeneutics, but have they really proven themselves under the pressures of pastoral ministry?

The apostle Paul chose Timothy, one of his young disciples to care for the church in Ephesus. Timothy already had certain qualifications but Paul his mentor, was testing him and his test consisted of leading a church under the apostle’s supervision. In this context, Paul wrote Timothy in his second letter:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Timothy was already leading the church and he was going through challenging times. Paul wrote this epistle to encourage him to continue, to be diligent and for what? The answer is that Paul’s goal was for Timothy to be approved as an unashamed Christian worker who, in spite of ministerial difficulties would diligently press on to provide spiritual light from God’s Word to his flock. Supervised ministry was the test and every Christian worker must successfully pass the test in order to be approved!

Before becoming a Christian worker or minister, it is necessary to be approved by God. As you can observe in the title above, the word “approved” precedes the word “worker”. It is essential to obey the sequence. A person who has not been approved can compromise not only his own life, but also the work that he does and the people he serves.

For a Christian worker to present himself approved suggests the need of qualification. It should be obvious that Christian workers must have an intimate relationship with God as the first pre-requisite. The starting point of God’s work lies in our motivations. First, we must align our motivations with the fear of God. Second, we must secure God’s approval, only then should we attempt to develop our service to the Lord.

Strictly speaking, before anything else, it is important to understand that we are God’s work. We are under construction. We are the temple that the Holy Spirit edifies. Jesus is preparing an eternal abode within us (John 14:2) inside of us. Our inner man will manifest his presence in us in glory through a heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15:40-54).

That “mansion” that you hope to live in when you get to heaven is being invisibly built inside of you, through the visible work and transformation that the Holy Spirit is operating in your life, in virtue of your flexibility, brokenness and submission to his divine will.

When we speak of serving God, the most important thing is not to do something for him or in his name, but allow him to do it in and through you. When he does it in you, he certainly will also do it through you. The fact is, that there is a great difference between you doing the work of God and God doing his work through you. For this reason the principle of cooperation is so important.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9)

The basis for approval

I would like to propose a question: What is the first thing that we have to do in order to be approved by God? Stop reading for a minute and answer this question…

Almost every time I ask this question, I hear answers like, “We have to obey! We have to fear the Lord! We have to walk in holiness! We have to live by faith!” Each person sounds off the answer, each sounding more “spiritual” than the one before, but all fail to see the simplicity of the question.

Others get closer to the right answer by saying that it is necessary to pass the test since approval suggests passing a test. However, before passing any test it is necessary to take the test. Therefore, the first thing that we must do to be approved is simply: to take the test! No one can pass a test that they have never taken! There is only one path to “approval”: to take or go through the test, the trials, the temptations, etc.!

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (James 1:12)

How many times do we make promises or vows to God that we do not fulfill? We say things like, God, I will believe in you! … I will obey my ministerial call!… I will be faithful to you through my finances! … I will win many souls for your kingdom! …

However, when the first need arises, we fall on our face. When the first difficulty of our calling comes, we consider the possibility that maybe this isn’t exactly what God has for us. When people who help us financially forget us, or our salary is cut, we recoil, feel hurt and become depressed. Little by little, we accustom ourselves to the rituals of church, to church meetings, to seminars and other meetings and we forget the lost. Each time we are tested with respect to the purposes that we have established, we simply fail.

The truth is that many tests, in a natural and subtle way through the natural process of our life. However, each inadequate and insufficient response that we give to these tests imposes spiritual bonds that, little by little, distance us from the possibility of reaching God’s purpose for us and fulfilling his purpose.

If we really desire to be workers in the kingdom of God, we must enter the school of the Holy Spirit, with the willingness to be treated and edified by the Word of God. This school lasts for the rest of our lives and the Holy Spirit has a special curriculum, dynamically appropriate for each one of us.

Our most intimate motivations, our faith and perseverance, our convictions and feelings, our knowledge, our call and ministry will be tested by all types of specific and adverse circumstances. God never superficially trivializes character faults and distortions that we still have in our personality. Above all, faith is a muscle that must be exercised.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)

This passage points to the need to break a sophism that many people attempt to defend. In other words, when we heed the call of God, even when walking in obedience, it doesn’t mean that only positive and enjoyable things will happen to us. The center of the will of God does not exempt us from tests, difficulties and the resistance offered by the spiritual realm of evil.

When Paul said,“… Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37), what did he mean by that? What was he referring to when he said what we would conquer? What did he mean by “all of these things”? It means the resistance that is coming, that which will consistently test us.

We like the idea of being overcomers without having to fight, or by being approved without having to take the test. However this isn’t correct and does not work. Therefore, Paul explains:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35)

If you are going through any of these types of situations, then you face a great opportunity to refuse to doubt God’s love and becoming a conqueror. The correct attitude of agreement with God’s character in each test, works as a master-key that unlocks doors and breaks through our limitations. We must endorse the victory of Jesus in each fight that we face by identifying with his character.

Basically, it is necessary for us to release control in order to face any given situation. We must learn to face all things as a divine acquisition, or in other words know how to take advantage of the good part of any and every adverse situation. Without this understanding we abort the real possibility of being “approved”.

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