THE HOUR OF TESTING

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THE HOUR OF TESTINGCopyright Š 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved

("The Final Witness" is taken from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson, copyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson, found in the Kindle Library)

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Some passages of Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEŽ, Copyright Š 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Hour of Testing

The Three Testings of God's Sons

The Hour of Testing

There is coming to the earth an hour of testing. This is not the same as the Great Tribulation. We can think of tribulation as "chastening." Its purpose is to refine the work of redemption. We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation.

Testing, on the other hand, is an opportunity to sin. The Lord Jesus (as will be true of the rest of the sons of God) endured three major temptations, or testings, not three tribulations. Much of today's preaching warns of the Great Tribulation. This is the response of the natural man to the prospect of pain and trouble. The actual danger is not tribulation; we profit from tribulation and are made holy. The danger is the hour of testing.

Satan has employed a grand strategy. It is to convince Christian leaders that new-covenant grace provides a covering such that God does not see the behavior of the believers. How they behave is not really critical. The one essential action is to profess faith in Jesus Christ.

Satan's purpose in this grand strategy is to disarm God's people so that when the Hour of Temptation arrives, they will yield to sin, believing that God wants them to be happy and plans on bringing them to Heaven by "grace."

Godly evangelists, pastors, and teachers should have realized that God never would give us a new covenant that made it possible for the Christians to proceed in their ungodly practices, and then be received into the presence of the holy saints and angels. But for some reason, multitudes of the Christian scholars and leaders have been blind to what their common sense would have told them had they applied it.

I believe the hour of testing, of temptation, has arrived. How many Christian young people and adults are watching pornography on the Internet or on their cell phones or on their E-mail? There probably are millions by now.

There is no question that pornography is one of the most compelling attractions of this century. It takes strong determination to turn away from it. If we believe we are saved by grace and faith alone, we probably will be unable to summon will power strong enough to turn away from pornography and other sexual enticements.

The following is a verse that is employed on occasion in a misleading manner:

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10—NASB)

The word "kept" may be translated "guard." The thought is, if we are faithful to patiently guard the commands of Christ, He will guard us from the hour of testing that is to test those who live on the earth.

This does not mean we will not be tested. Christ himself was tested. It means we will be strengthened against (given enough grace to overcome) the nearly irresistible urge to disobey God that is to come upon the whole earth, and may, in fact, have begun.

How many Christians, including pastors, are being enticed into viewing pornography on the Internet? They know what they are seeing is the antics of demons working out the lusts of Satan in human flesh. Yet the drawing toward these scenes is almost past their ability to resist.

Satan has been preparing us for this seduction by warping Paul's teaching of grace to mean our behavior is not critical because of the sovereignty of the Divine salvation. When we trust we are saved by "faith alone," and faith is defined as our agreement with a "Statement of Faith," and then are presented with the pornographic scenes, we are led away captive by Satan.

The Bible has much to say about the overcoming of the saints in the last days.

I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them. (Daniel 7:21—NASB) (The "horn" is Antichrist, the spirit of the world in the last days.)

And on account of transgression the host will be given over to the horn along with the regular sacrifice; and it will fling truth to the ground and perform its will and prosper. (Daniel 8:12—NASB) ("It" is Antichrist)

I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed. (Daniel 12:7—NASB)

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12,13—NIV)

Can you see from this verse that the saints will be tested; and if they are to be saved they must stand firm? Doesn't this remind us of Revelation 3:10 (above)?

The following two passages are written to Christians:

Submit therefore to God Resist the devil and he will flee from you. (James 4:7—NASB)

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. (I Corinthians 10:12,13—NIV)

The Greek word for "temptation," (peirasmos), as used in the above verse, is the same word used in Revelation 3:10 for "testing." This is not the Greek word for "tribulation" (thlipsis).

In today's Greek, peirasmos has the meaning of "to attempt to mislead someone"; "the desire that pushes man to sin." (New Lexicon and Thesaurus of the Greek language, Elementary and Monotonic Language. International Publishing Organization, Christos Giovannis.)

Temptation may be related to "tribulation" in a secondary sense. Our problem in America today is not tribulation, it is the arousing in us of an intense desire to sin. As I think about it, it probably is true that because of the sin resulting from the Hour of Temptation, wickedness will increase to the point of causing the love of the majority of Christians to grow cold.

The rebellion of the majority of Christians will remove the testimony that restrains the full revelation of Antichrist. The wickedness and the full revelation of Antichrist will cause God to impose on the earth the Great Tribulation. This no doubt is the relationship between the Hour of Temptation and the Great Tribulation.

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, (II Thessalonians 2:3—NASB)

Temptation and testing may have the same impact on us. When the problem is temptation to sin, it is coming from Satan. When the problem is testing, it is coming from God. It is Satan who is tempting us but God who is testing us. Sometimes God permits Satan to tempt us, and that is why we are to pray, "Lead us not into temptation."

If you will compare the following three passages, you will see that God will permit Antichrist to reach into the heavens and tear down the saints who are not firmly established in Christ. This is taking place today as we see ministers of the Gospel fall into sin.

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." (Hebrews 12:26—NIV)

It grew up to the host of heaven and caused some of the host and some of the stars to fall to the earth, and it trampled them down. (Daniel 8:10—NASB)

And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. (Revelation 12:4—NASB)

It is doubtful that the "stars" (above) refer to evil angels. Satan would not fling his army from the heavens to the earth. They more likely are members of God's elect who at one time were at God's right hand in Christ, but who fell because their hearts were not grounded in obedience to God. We have seen in the last few years prominent ministers of the Gospel who have been flung from Heaven to the earth, haven't we?

"If we think we are standing firm we need to be careful we do not fall"!

I know that Satan cannot move us from God with any power of his own. But we of today, if we do not stand fast and resist the increasing temptations of our age, will be deceived and will consent to what Satan is offering. Be warned, for this is a real danger facing each one of us!

There are two problems with yielding to sin. To begin with, when we die we will be placed with people like ourselves. God does not want any mixtures in the spirit world. "Let the filthy be filthy still." "Make straight the way of the Lord."

After that, in the Day of Resurrection, what we are will be revealed clearly. The Book of Daniel speaks of those who are raised to "shame and everlasting contempt."

Notice the following destiny of some who are raised. Notice also that the wicked are punished in their bodies.

"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:24—NIV)

Today's preaching is leaving the Christians with the idea that God has unconditional love for us, so even if we do yield to temptation, God loves us so much He will bring us to Heaven so we will be happy.

This is not true. What we sow we are going to reap. What we are in personality, we are. Our entrance into the spirit world will not change that; neither will the coming of Christ.

It appears the greater part of the Christian believers are in deception. There is going to be anguish and crying when our casual American churchgoers suddenly realize they have died and those whom they are placed with are self-centered, spiritually lazy people who are occupying undesirable habitations in the Land of Darkness.

We will be placed with people like ourselves, not with the victorious saints who are enjoying the righteousness, love, peace, and joy of the Land of Light.

Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:7,8—NIV)

The killing of the witness is accomplished by Sodom, Egypt, and Jerusalem; that is, by the lust of the flesh, by the love of the world, and by spiritual pride and self-will.

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. (Revelation 13:5-7—NIV)

The testimony of Jesus Christ already has been destroyed in the United States of America, by sexual lust, by the love of the world, and by self-love and self-seeking.

Make no mistake! America has asked for Satan, and Satan is being given to her. The "pharaohs" that have assumed leadership of our land do not know Joseph. The old American ideas and ways are rapidly passing away. Our children are being taught from kindergarten up that homosexual relations are normal, and possibly preferred. The kindest thing that could be said about this public-school curriculum is, it is wildly insane!

But then, the Apostle Paul said the Lord gives the wicked a mind void of judgment.

How could our nation deteriorate so quickly as to install a president who supports abortion on demand, a supreme evil that is causing God to withdraw his protective covering from us?

We Christians are so bemused with the late-night comedy television blasphemers we do not realize the America we once knew has been lost.

Now our task is twofold: first, to make sure we are keeping Christ's commands and not listening to those who are preaching that grace excuses our sinful behavior. By so doing we will save ourselves and those who hear us. Christ will give us the strength to refuse to consent to Satan's invitations.

Second, we are to pray for believers of every nation and race. It is time for us to look past America and see the Body of Christ. Before the Lord returns, the Body will be one in Christ in God. Then the world will believe that God has sent Jesus Christ.

So do not waste your spiritual energy mourning over the works of Satan in America. They are going to become much worse. Keep your mind on that which is lovely, pure, and honorable. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He is not experiencing confusion, poverty, or weakness. He is sitting as King of the flood of the chaos of the world.

He will sit as King of the flood of your life if you will present your body a living sacrifice; deny yourself; and carry your cross patiently after the Master.

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12,13—NIV)

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10—NASB)

The Three Testings of God's Sons

We can read in the fourth chapter of the Book of Luke about the three testings of Christ. Every son of God is tested in the same three manners. The first testing has to do with our physical needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. The second testing is in the area of pleasure. The third testing reflects our willingness to think and act only as directed by God through Christ.

These are the three areas of our life as human beings—our physical needs, our pleasures, and the manner in which we make our decisions.

The temptation in each of these three areas is to pursue the accomplishment of our desires apart from looking to the Lord, apart from walking humbly with God, apart from waiting until we hear from the Lord.

The first area, that of our physical needs, has, in America, largely to do with money. Money is one of the two great gods of Americans, the other being sexual lust.

Right now God is attacking the god of money. In time past a severe blow to the American economy has caused people to commit suicide. Can you imagine? Those who killed themselves because they lost money reveal that money was their chief interest in life. There were no warm, loving family relationships to cherish, nothing to look to bring them out of their despair. They lost money. Therefore life was not worth living. Can you imagine that?

The Father speaking through Jesus, as recorded in the Gospel accounts, told us clearly that we are not to lay up treasures on the earth but in Heaven where they are secure. We must take our things, relationships, circumstances, traits of character, and environment and deliberately and forcefully keep placing them in Heaven. Everything we are and possess must be kept on the altar of God.

If we try to save our life in the world we will lose it.

Among the treasures we are to lay up are traits of character, such as faithfulness, honesty, kindness, mercy. If we lay up such in Heaven, they, and the results of them, will be given to us in the Day of Resurrection—and sometimes before that! These traits will appear as characteristics of our new body, in the Day of Resurrection.

God warned us that we cannot serve both money and him. Either God or money has to be first in our heart.

God told us not to worry about our life, what we are to eat or drink, or about our body, what we are to wear. He reminded us that God feeds the birds and that we are more important to God than birds. God clothes the flowers. We are more important than flowers. Do we truly believe that God cares for us?

God said that if we will seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, our physical needs will be provided.

What does it mean to seek first God's Kingdom and his righteousness? It means that in every decision of our life, beginning with the smallest decision, we are to ask God to give us wisdom and power so we can make the right choice. When God tells us what to do and enables us to do it, we are living in his Kingdom and enjoying his righteousness. We are living by every Word that is coming from the mouth of God.

Each of the three testings is the same, as I said previously. It is to measure our willingness to seek the accomplishment of our needs and desires without looking to Christ for wisdom and help.

In these difficult economic times in America we are to learn to look to Christ for our material needs. It may be that the economy will be much worse in the future, and we need to learn now how to trust God for our daily needs. We cannot trust the government to meet these needs for us. If we place our trust in the government we will become part of the one-world Antichrist government of the future, to which the present distresses are leading.

In the thirty-seventh Psalm the writer testified that he never had seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging bread.

In the fourth chapter of the Book of Philippians, Paul advises us that God shall supply our needs.

We are to live by every Word coming from the mouth of God. God always is speaking wisdom to each individual. We are to learn to listen and make our decisions based on what God is saying at each moment.

The second testing is that of all the pleasures, passions, motives and agendas of our flesh, including the desire to rule other people. It is the realm of Satan and of our sinful nature. Paul told us in the Books of Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians that we shall not inherit the Kingdom of God but shall reap corruption if we live according to our sinful nature.

The Apostle John in his first letter informs us that whoever is committing sin is of the devil. We may reject this thought, but it is true. When we are committing sin we are worshiping Satan. When referring to the kingdoms of the pleasures of the world, Satan asked Jesus to worship him. Jesus told Satan that the sons of God are to worship God only.

We may not enjoy the thought that when we sin we are worshiping Satan. This is especially true in the area of sexual lust. Adultery and fornication usually head the list when the Apostle Paul refers to the acts of the sinful nature.

Pornography on the Internet is proving to be a powerful testing in our day. Numerous Christians, pastors and evangelists included, look at the filthy immorality on the Internet. Would they continue to do this if they realized they actually are worshiping Satan?

The Bible says: "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." (I John 3:8—NASB).

Would you like to be "of the devil"? Neither would I. If this is so, we had better look to Christ for wisdom and strength when the Spirit of God points out sinful behavior in our life.

Remember, the second testing is to seek our pleasures apart from Christ by yielding to Satan. The godly way is to commit every desire for pleasure to the Lord Jesus that He may give us the pleasures we should have—pleasures that will bring us love, joy, and peace, not remorse and sickness.

Every mentally healthy person realizes there is a God and a spirit world. Atheists may talk themselves out of this fact, but harm themselves and their hearers by so doing.

Yes, there indeed is a God and a spirit world. This realization is in the consciousness of most people who have lived or yet are living on the earth. The less educated peoples do not have nearly as much trouble with the concept of God as do the more "sophisticated."

The problem is, how are we to approach and please God? Thousands of religions and witch doctors give us the answer. Most of them are incorrect, I believe.

For myself, I am a pastor of an evangelical church. But I do not have much faith in any religious body. Religious organizations usually end up with an assortment of plans they have derived from their own ideas of what God wants. Individual Christians who walk humbly with God, listening to the Spirit's call, are not as plentiful as one could wish.

There is the high point of the roof of the Temple in Jerusalem, the test of presumption; the temptation to act apart from God according to our own understanding. This was the original temptation, wasn't it?

The Book of Psalms says that God's angels will keep us from stumbling. Therefore in order to prove we are a son of God we should jump off the roof of the Temple. This is Satan's advice.

The point is to test God to see if his promises are trustworthy. We are not to do this. It is presumption.

From what I can see, most religious efforts are presumptuous. The leaders get an idea from the Bible concerning what we are to do to please God. Then every believer is to fall into line and do these things, which they usually do not have the grace to do. They continue to sit in church while the exhortations to action go on and on and on until the churchgoers cannot "hear" them anymore.

"Let's step out in faith. Let's try this or that. Maybe that will bring in more people so we can add them to our year-end report."

From listening to the Christian organizations you would think that the main subject of the New Testament is evangelism—"getting souls saved." Some day, when you have a moment, check out the number of times the word "evangelism" or "evangelist" is employed in the New Testament.

What, then, is the subject of the New Testament? The main subject is the building up in faith of the believers as they learn to turn away from sin and worship God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why do we emphasize what is not emphasized in the New Testament, and minimize what actually is emphasized?

I may be incorrect, but I think the reason is the Christian organizations measure their success in numbers of converts, not in how many believers grew substantially in Christ. It may be true that denominations are more concerned with the welfare of the organization than they are with the welfare of people. We see this as the Catholic Church, it is reported, appears to be more concerned about the dignity of the priests than about the children they molested.

We must keep in mind that Satan is not threatened by new converts, only by true disciples who are dying to their own lives that Christ may live in them.

Can't you imagine a Christian organization in its year-end report listing the number of members who gained victory over unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, self-seeking, pornography, boasting, seeking preeminence!

Don't wait for denominational year-end reports to report Christian growth, although Christian growth is the objective of the denomination. Growth in numbers of converts and growth in income or in missions-giving, are included in the year-end reports. Perhaps growth in the image of Christ is difficult to measure and report. Maybe so. But this is the true index of church growth, isn't it?

A church of ten thousand members may make no significant impact on the Kingdom of God, while one believer who is devoted wholly to the Lord may make eternal improvements in the Kingdom. So if we use the number of people who join our group as a measure of success, we are using an incorrect measure. Consequently we are using incorrect methods in the operations of our system.

Think of God's stars, like Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, A. W. Tozer, and how they have affected millions of people. They without doubt have made eternal improvements in the Kingdom, perhaps more eternal improvements that have been made by huge megachurches.

If I am hearing the Spirit of God, He is not speaking about saving America, or an imminent "rapture." He is not speaking to me about all the believers going forth and "saving souls." Perhaps He is saying this to some people. I may be opening myself to censure by mentioning this, but I do not have a "passions for souls." I do, however, have a passion for obeying Christ as his will is made known to me.

I believe the Spirit is telling us Christians to look to Him that He may deliver us from the sins of the flesh. I think personally this is the greatest need in America right now. Our government is floundering in the realm of ethics because the evangelical churches are preaching about the evacuation of the Christians in a "rapture" instead of teaching the believers how to show the light of Christ by their good works.

No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. (I John 3:6—NASB)