The Testing of Your Faith

Testing faith

What goes through your mind when you see men in orange jumpsuits waiting to be killed for their faith in Jesus? Do you think, “I could die for Jesus,” or “Thank God that’s not me”?

The earliest Christians faced the lions of the Roman circus and persecution remains a fact of life many Christians today. But most of us are’t being threatened with torture and martyrdom. No one’s holding a knife to our throats and saying, “Renounce Jesus or die.”

But what if they were?

Could you go through with it? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question since I’ve never been in that situation. But I used to believe that if I couldn’t go through with it, meaning under pressure of torture I denied Jesus, then Jesus would deny me before God. I came to that conclusion after reading scriptures like these:

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Rev 2:10)

If you wanted to make Christianity hard so that only the toughest apply and the weak stay away, this is the verse you’d quote. You’d preach something like: “Getting into the kingdom requires the right stuff. Only the strongest can make it. You need to harden up and die for Jesus as the early Christians did.”

But this is a grace-killing message that will lead you to trust in yourself. The fact is, it is not normal to face the lions of life – cancer, dementia, HIV/AIDs, etc. – with poise and equanimity. We were born to live, not die. Anytime you see someone facing death with supernatural peace, that is a sign that should make you wonder.

Jesus’ words to the church at Smyrna should not be interpreted as a threat, as in: “Fail the test and I’ll kick you out of the kingdom.” Christianity isn’t a test, it’s a rest. Jesus is saying something like this:

Some of you are going to be persecuted on my account and some of you will even die. Don’t be afraid but fix your eyes on me. I’ve been through it all and I have overcome the world. Trust me. We’ll go through this trial together, and you’ll be amazed at how well your God-given faith bears up under pressure. This test will only be for a short time and then we will meet face to face. I can’t wait to see you and hug you and give you your crown. (GITQ, p.188)

Don’t you see? It’s not about you but him. Persecution was coming to the church at Smyrna on account of Jesus, but they were going to get through it on account of Jesus.

The testing of your faith

Let’s look at a couple of scriptures that are sometimes used to glorify the flesh when they should be used to glorify Jesus:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)

The NIV refers to the “testing” of your faith, which is a verb, but the word James uses is a noun that means “trustworthy.” The trials of life are not to see whether we can manufacture the right stuff, for faith is a gift from God and not something to manufacture at all. The trials we face reveal the quality of God’s good gifts. They show us that the faith he has given us is trustworthy. It’s a good gift!

In the natural you may not be able to endure, but your faith will endure because your faith comes from God – and when you see that you will endure. In other words, James is giving us a promise, not a threat. I love how the Good News Bible translates his words:

For you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. (Jas 1:3, GNB)

All well and good, but how do we put this into practice? What if you are going through tough times? What’s the takeaway?

We can learn about endurance from Paul and his companions who were tested “far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death” (2 Cor 1:8-9). We’re not talking about the small stuff here. Paul’s not saying, “I couldn’t find a park at the mall.” He’s talking about the Big-Stuff-that-can-kill-you. He’s referring to the trials of life that are greater than our ability to endure. Sometimes we find ourselves under the sentence of death. When the lions roar, what can you do?

The light in the darkness

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (2 Cor 4:6)

Life is dark but God has given you a Light who is greater than the darkness. Jesus has overcome the world, conquered death, and there is no trial that unsettles him. Jesus smiles at every storm! Walking in the light of the knowledge of Jesus means fixing your eyes on him during your trial.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Cor 4:7)

It’s not about you; it’s about Jesus who is with you. When the doctor tells you about the sorry condition of your jar, you need to hear about the Treasure. The Treasure is awesome, but you might not appreciate that until you go through hard times.

The trials of life aren’t from the Lord – he wasn’t responsible for the Roman lions or the persecution of the saints in Smyrna – but he uses these opportunities to reveal himself to you in new and exciting ways.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ… (1 Pet 1:6-7, NKJV)

We don’t go through trials to see if we can manufacture the right stuff. Rather, life’s trials reveal that God has given us the Right Stuff because he has given us himself. It is his faith that endures and his light that shines!

Fix your eyes on Jesus and you will endure too. You will shine like the stars at night!


Grace Pack redux


  1. Daniel Lumpkin says:

    What an on time message I really needed to hear. I’ve been out of work now since June 1, 2015, and believeing God for a new position, a position of influence. I’m networking, putting in applications, making phone calls and whatever else I lead to do. Waiting patiently can sometimes cause you to wonder, even question God. But God will always send his word in the time of need to comfort and strenghten you in fighting the good fight of faith…saying STAND therefore in the liberty where Christ has made you free…and don’t get into your own efforts or performance…to wait is to REST in Christ Finished Work.
    There’s nothing like being assured that God is with you, even when you know it but at times because of the trial you waver a bit…

    God Bless You,
    Keep doing what you’re doing
    Grace and Peace

    • Daniel,
      You’re on the right track. I lost my position in Aug. of 2014. Sold our home and relocated. Just recently joined the employed ranks and too, am believing God is going to take me to new heights where I can be an influence for His kingdom. As I rest, I see Him work.
      I must admit, being unemployed and taking that step out in faith by relocating was the most wonderful, faith filled steps of rest in my Christian walk. Joy came, peace came, a new sense of His love and grace over flowed in my life. What liberation! Just the other day, was contacted for a position of advancement, had lunch with an HR rep. and “just so happen to” run into the new director of our division. All in the same day! God’s timing is perfect. It’s exciting to see what He’s going to do next. The time off that I had, I looked at it through the eye’s of grace and heard in my heart sing, “He restoreth my soul.”

  2. Gloria Griffith says:

    Wow this is so good. thank you for clarifying the are truly a gift from God.

  3. Wow! Thank you Paul. I keep hearing from the pulpit that God is testing us…but I now see that scripture tells us that it is Satan and this fallen world that does the testing. And you have shown me the light (Jesus) that is in my earthen jar is TRUSTWORTHY! Thanks again! I appreciate the faith to faith exchange you give so freely and with love.

  4. Mony Kurien says:

    Awesome Stuff! Thanks Paul!!!!!

  5. Another good one Paul,You almost have to read it a couple of times to absorb it.

  6. “ Fix your eyes on Jesus and you will endure too. “ Sounds like good advise as does Colossians 1:21,22,23
    “ And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, ‘provided’ that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard,…”
    But fix we must, to continue in the faith!

  7. Thank you Paul for listening to God’s Spirit in leading you through the risen Spirit of Son for you and all the world to see this perplexity in facing death, even as Stephan did joyously while being stoned to death, for saying God does not live in buildings. And Saul consented unto this stoning and watched Stephan enjoy going to his death, which if that were me, I would be astonished to literally see this person rejoicing in dying

    Then the road to Damascus and his learning from God himself, for he went not to flesh and blood, but was taught by God personally.

    So hoping all ask for this training up in our new selves, to hear truth over error in belief for God to do as he said in Hebrews 8:11.
    So listen to all around, don’t fight and take all to God in prayer, fro that is where each of us that believe, listen to God in Spirit and truth to be free, and not of self ever I see that now. Been through much also and see to rejoice, knowing as Jesus knew to endure, yet hurt in the flesh as he did for us in advance showing us, the only way to life in through death to the flesh nature.
    We won’t see life in the Spirit of life from Father and Son unless one is willing to die, Great Ex: Stephan amazing to me

    Thank you again

  8. Scott Walker says:

    Paul, I believe I understand what you mean by “keeping our eyes on Jesus”, it refers to understanding what God, the word, says about us and/or about a situation we find ourselves in rather than what appears to be the truth or what or how the world thinks about that situation. What I’m looking for is an easier way of saying that so that when I share, I’m properly understood. Can you help?

    • That’s a good question Scott, and maybe others would like to weigh in. Another Biblical phrase which means the same thing is knowing the Lord as in “In all thy ways know him” (which is a good translation of Proverbs 3:6). Our desire is to know his heart in the challenges we face and we can know because he has give us His Spirit to lead and guide us. Consequently, we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), which means we can know what he thinks. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been confused and concerned about some matter and finally I’ve prayed about it – “God, what do you think” – and straight away I have known. It’s like night and day. Knowing God in this way is one of the hallmarks of the new covenant (Heb 8:11).

      • Michael says:

        Hi Paul….do you have anything written on Genesis 22 where God presumably tested Abraham’s faith so severely? Thank you…

    • Scott, these verses might help fro God is always the one to know what t say or not say to whoever,

      Luke 21:14-15Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

      14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

  9. Colleen G says:

    So what does a person do when their faith has not endured? When they found it all empty, dark and lonely despite promises that God would be there holding them together despite the horrors of life, despite having once believed the truth most fervently. Life chewed me up and spit me out and the heavens stayed dark and silent.

    • That’s a good question Colleen, and I hope others may share their experiences. I have been through two hellish pits in my life – pits that I thought were bottomless with no way out – and in both I have encountered Jesus in ways I had never experienced before. On both occasions the hellish pits stayed exactly the same, yet everything changed with me. Jesus was very much a light and a comfort in a dark place. As a child I had the following scripture on my wall, and it’s a scripture that has proven true again and again for me. My prayer is that it will be true for you:

      “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isa 43:1-3)

    • Colleen, what I see is you do believe and the enemy this world hates you fro being you as God made you new in belief to him, and this shows without you knowing to others that have come to belief through the works of love and Mercy that permeates through you from the risen Christ that you are given to have from Father

      So Eph 1:6,7, 13 tell you you are accepted by Father and Son through Son’s done work for you. For verse 7 says you are forgiven, when was this done Sis? before you were ever born here yes? Col. 1:21-23 claims this

      So now that you are revealed even as you go through some terrible troubles as you have and are. All this is is evil trying to stop you.

      Read the book of Job, be Job as you read and ask self if this happened to you, would you curse, deny God? Now see Christ went a step further to his death willingly.
      Get it, and I am not saying to not change from the situation you are in. I am saying listen close to the hidden man of your heart that you were sealed with by God in the risen Son for you to have new life in Spirit of not the old flesh

      Prayed this helps only Father can reveal not me, thank you Jesus for the opportunity to stand

      As I trust and have been thrown out to the wolves to be taken down and I remained to stand in Faith the same as I do now, lost everything I earned in this world by work, died on the operating table more than once, was not expected to live and told so, I gloried in that and lived, that is when I got depressed thought it was my time and found out not. So been relearning what is meant by Romans 12:2 and Luke 21:14-15, as well as Matt. 10:16-20

      When evil faces you, and one is content, evil fleas when can’t get you upset or angry by Faith in full trust to Father and Son, God holds you up and when the trial is over that is allowed not given by God, allowed to teach us Faith to God above our circumstances

      Think about how when Paul was in Jail and the jail help were arrogant over this in his preaching. They saw him glory anyway as being locked up and the jail help turned to belief also by Paul’s glorying
      Thank you

    • Colleen – my heart goes out to you in your period of darkness and a sincere prayer for you to be washed with the true light. Perhaps these thoughts can help: God is never the source of our trials and praise be that His presence through them is not based on our performance but solely on his grace, alive and living in us. Only as I more fully see the inadequacy of my “self” do I more fully realize the need to abandon self and fully rely on him.

      After reading this great post yesterday, I was led to Perhaps these words from Oswald Chambers can add some comfort to your suffering. His life was filled with the “utmost” example of seeing Christ through the abandonment of self.

      Thanks so much to Paul and the work of the many other teachers of true grace. God bless.

    • Hi Colleen,

      Not sure if I can keep this <250 words but I will try and be brief and to the point.
      I certainly understand your pain. At the age of 14 my mother threw me out and for the next 4 years I was fostered. What happened to me over that period of time was just shocking. I was a Christian at the time. I carried that period around with me, so much so that 19 years ago I dropped out of church, and as you said I felt that life had chewed me up and spit me out and God stayed quiet and allowed it to happen. believe it or not before that I was leading a successful youth group and teaching on a weekly basis.

      Depression, anxiety, anger had taken its hold. I stopped praying, I did not lose my faith as such but felt that God had lost faith in me and I was being punished. I did cry out to God every day. For 15 of those 19 years I woke up every night at the same time, full of fear, guilt wondering what would happen if I died that night, was I going to heaven or hell. It got to the stage that I then started asking God to take my life so I knew where I would be going.

      I had stopped reading th bible because it terrified me. Every verse I looke at I interpreted that because I could not shape up then at some time God was going to ship me out.

      I have an amazing Godly wife and 4 children who have all given their life to Jesus so you could see what a mess I was in. I sought a pastor who suggested I did a Freedom in Christ course to which I agreed.

      Before I started the course I plucked up the courage and started praying again and reading the bible. I sought God earnestly, then for a period of time bible verses that I used to teach started to become clear to me (verses that I used to teach on but I felt were for others and not me) Romans 5 – having peace with God, Romans 8 – no condemnation for those in Christ, Jhn 6 where Jesus said the only work God requires is to believe in him and I could mention many more.

      It was an amazing period. Then God said to me one day. "let us deal with that 4 year period" I point blank refused, he asked me 3 times and I refused 3 times. Then he said "BILL WHAT PART OF US, YOU AND I DO YOU NOT GET? "Now it's time to forgive and I am going to help you" I was gobsmacked that God wanted to help me. It was hard time for a few months but we did it.

      For the last 3 years I have not been afraid to go the bed, I don't wake up with fear, condemnation and so on and I continually thank God for that.

      I am not saying that my life is a bed of roses but one thing is for sure and that is I am in a different place. One where I know God loves me so much and I actually have nothing to fear. I do have to apply those precious promises stated above when I feel myself slipping back. Why did it take 26 years before God finally dealt with it? I have no idea. How long will it be before God works in other stuff in my life? I don't know but I do know that he will.

      I hope this will help you. The fact that you have posted suggests to me that you are actually enduring but are desperately hurting and possibly angry. That was me.

      Now I know that God is for me and not against me, he loves me dearly, he promised to work good in all things (please note that is different from making all things good, which I was told).

      We could all tell you how precious you are to God, how much he loves you, why Jesus died for you. My guess is that it would be difficult to hear. I think we need to hear it from God. We can only hear it when we come before him.

      When I did I was totally honest and told my Father in heaven how I felt, I realised that he knew my thoughts anyway so why not tell him, it was then that he started to tell me how he felt.

      God bless you precious lady, daughter of God.


      • I read through the lines and the words I encountered were touching and live change…you really went through a lot but the better part of it all is you are what he says you are..with your post,I feel motivated to knw that faith in God yield good report. #Iamtouched#

      • Hi onas,

        I am glad that you found my post helpful. It can be hard to believe but we are all who he says we are. We are his precious children and he is our Abba Father. That can never change, if it could then our Father would be a liar and we know he is not a liar but a God of truth, therefore we need to hold on to that even when our emotions and thought patterns tell us otherwise, to me that is faith. Father bless you his precious child. The faith you aspire to have is already yours, grasp it, grasp it just as Jacob did.

    • Colleen sometimes the dark things we are experiencing in life is because we are marked by the Lord or our children are marked by the Lord for specific things to bless people in life. There are people for example, who are marked to be preachers, and the enemy can some how see these things and launches attacks to even try his best to kill them or to cause them to turn from the Lord completely. Many believers out there and people in general, have simply never been taught how to live by faith or how to respond when these incredibly dark times come. Its actually quite easy to feel you’ve been abandoned and that you are on your own and that your prayers are also not being answered.

    • momzilla76 says:

      Hey this is Colleen. It took until December of last year to begin to get a breakthrough and it wasn’t until just last month that I finally broke down the last stronghold that was messing with my head and my faith.

  10. There is obedience to faith. Jesus paid for all our sins or am I wrong??? When God remembered our whole entire life of sins in the body of his son on the Cross and because God had punished it all, Christ then said, it is finished. Hebrews 10:17, your sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more. So question – does that apply to those who deny Christ during persecution? Does that apply to a number of the Nigerian Christians that DENIED Christ in public to the world; stating that they had made a mistake and Islam is the way. They were also forced to kill Christian men after witnessing by force, other Christians death right in front of their faces. Will they go to heaven after denying Christ cuz what they went through was such hell and frightening? These questions are in the heart of many Believers; knowing that all the promises of God are yes and Amen, (from the old to the new T). eg, Psalms 91, Psalms 91:16, Psalms 118:17, John 10:28 and much more. Can’t write a novel on here to back up what I’m about to say but it’s not God’s will. Just because he stated it, it is not his will.

    • Galatians 4:29Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

      29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

      The last decision to be made is to believe God or not through Son’s done work for you
      To believe or not believe is all that was left after the cross of Christ. God gave free choice and left one free choice to decide to believe or not consciously knowing the consequences of the choice made so att Judgment day no man will be with excuse for as said in Heb. 8:11 for all will know me. This does not mean all will believe, just that all will know so there will be no excuse to one’s choice . This be why Father came on Pentecost in Spiirt and truth to speak through his children as he did then he does today as he sees waht to say and or do through us today, taht are willing for this to be and us out of the way

      God in past at Exodus in deliverance spoke to the people there than from the Lightening s and thunders, and the people were sore afraid and asked for a man of God to speak to them

      This is Christ Jesus the promised one in Genesis 3:15 that has come, took all sin away in father;s sight to us through him in his death fro all, All are forgiven

      So waht is left to get? New life in the risen Christ that Father gives presently not when one dies physically, actually reckons themselves dead in the flesh nature with Christ’s death, to see new life in the risen Christ that only Father can reveal

      Romans 5:10Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

      10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

  11. I have always hoped that I would cope – but the truth is that I would probably be utterly petrified!
    Thank God that I would not have to do it on my own..

  12. If possible, I would like to know more about the source for this information —-
    the NIV refers to the “testing” of your faith, which is a verb, but the word James uses is a noun that means “trustworthy.”

    I would be interested in having this as a resource for myself.

    My story is until I found E2R, I would read the Bible and think I can never be good enough. I felt worse after reading so I stopped reading it. I prayed, well, begged God to do this or do that. Then I found ETR and what a revelation it was to me. Thank you Paul Ellis. I have bought GITQ and GITW, shared them others. Thank you for sharing your source(s), if possible.

    • Hi Caren. We live at a time where there are many excellent resources online. One I use a lot is the Blue Letter Bible. If you enter James 1:3 into that and click on “tools” and then click on the Strongs number (G1383) next to the word you’re interested in (“the trying” in this case), you’ll get some background information on the Greek word being translated. In this excample you’ll learn that dokimion is a noun that means “trustworthiness.”

      If you want to dig a little deeper, you can take the Strong’s number and enter it into a collection of lexicons such as those administered by BibleHub. Hope this helps and happy digging!

  13. Man of God thank you very much.

  14. This can only be the Spirit of God. I mean this is the question that comes to the mind of many Christians these days especially when we see and hear about Alshabab, Boko Haram, ISIS.e.t.c. We look at ourselves and we think, “Can I really withstand when it comes to death for Jesus?”. I do believe nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ. Thank you bro Paul.

  15. The trials of life aren’t from the Lord – Paul Ellis. Paul I’m not sure about that part or maybe I need you to provide further clarification on that remark. I believe the Lord does allow us to go through trials in life sometimes or I should clarify I believe He allows things to come in to our life that become trials. Sometimes the things the Lord is allowing us to face is part of Him shaking things out of our life. And of course we have a blood bought right to ask to be delivered out of that trial or problem. And those trials are always designed to bring us to a better place. There are always spoils to gather up after we respond correctly in a trial. But I agree with all other points in your article Paul. Excellent interpretation and analysis.

  16. Not all of us will leave this world a Martyrs death. But what I Beleive personally is this: It’s easy to think the worse if we were facing the end of the barrel of a gun or edge of a sword. And the thought of renouncing him increases ever so. And the reason that may be is because too many of us place too much of a value on earthly life instead of just appreciate having it but looking to that one that is far more precious than this life. That said. I also believe that a true beliver, regardless of how strong or weak in the faith he or she may be will supernaturally become strong and at peace if faced with life threatening circumstance. “I will never leave you nor forsake you”

  17. Wow, there is everything here I can relate to, basically. Been in various churches all my life, growing up, for the most part a Baptist and currently attending a Southern Baptist Church. I attend simply because of being impressed with the music of a chamber orchestra. I attend Sunday school class pretty regularly but find it increasingly aggrevating as the teachings are a mixture of law and grace which cancel each other out making the entire lesson pointless, this is what I grew up with and got nothing but religion and confusion out of it. Similar to Colleen above I have had times of great confusion and outright anger towards God and called him a hypocrite and a few other names I wont repeat, actually several times this has happened, crying out to God, throwing rocks in the air, begging for his help, nothing would do the trick. This is why I believe such people as Joseph Prince and the author of this site Paul have been given to us. Traditional “church” does not have the answers, never did, which I think is one of the reasons why you see so much bitterness today. The Bible is simple and means what it says but you need to know what it says, which will only come by study and not simply reading. It is study and continual searching, as for gold, if you will, that brings your mind to the point of being able to hear the Lord and understand that we are as He is, in this world. Our true self is seated at the right hand of the father, this fleshly “tent” is nothing more then a housing unit for a spirit the Lord is building for his kingdom and our future positions in that kingdom. God wants us to reign and through Christ we do but the journey to realizing that truth is paved with pitfalls, temptations, false teachings, anger and we find out it’s the flesh that hinders us, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I’m just thankful I have reached the point I have and now have teachers, such as Paul and Joseph Prince to guide me in the truth. I see by the posts I am not alone, we are all part of what Joseph Prince calls, The Grace Revolution. We are not sinners or sinners saved by grace we are the righteousness of God in Christ, our positions have completely changed because of Christ, we are what he says we are, no longer the old man but the new. It’s all about Christ and his finished work, all we need to is focus on him, not ourselves.

  18. Thanks for the reminder!

  19. Love this site!
    Proverbs 17:3 ESV

    The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.
    I see that God doesn’t test us with hiv, cancer, etc. I know that this is the enemy. He has come to steal, kill, and destroy. What is the testing that Abraham went through? Jesus went through the desert and he was brought in by the Holy Spirit? Is this a different kind of test? I know there is something to James 1 considering it pure joy.

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