God’s Closed- and Open- Book Tests

schoolI remember my school days. They are for me memories from just a few days ago (ahem). Anyway, I remember how when the teacher would say there is a test coming up it would affect me until the day of the test. Following the announcement, I would become totally energized getting ready for it. Why? I could not imagine myself struggling during the test and then getting a poor grade as a result. No way Jose.  So, I would begin studying right off the bat – immediately. It was the way I was wired in those days. I always had a great desire to quickly tackle the challenges of any test.

And, boy, were there all kinds of tests I had to take! I am sure most of you will remember them. There was the multiple choice test, the essay test, the fill-in-the-blank test, and the matching test.

It all depended, of course, on the subject at hand.


Scantron test sheet

Closed Book Tests
I did not care much for the memorization test. These were tests where I had to write out from memory, for example, Abraham Lincoln’s famous lines from the Gettysburg Address: “Fourscore and seven years ago…”

Another test was the oral test where, for example, I had to orally recite, yes orally – not write, in front of the teacher, the first few lines from Shakespeare: “To be or not to be – that is the question…” (Hamlet, Act III, Scene I).

I am sure you can come up with other testing styles.

Open Book Tests
There were, however, great moments in my school history when the teacher would announce an open book test. “Yes!” I would exclaim. I would sigh a great sigh of relief and rejoice that I would be able to use my book and notes while taking the test.

I remember when I took these open-book tests how I became distracted by the other classmates frantically flipping pages of their notes and books.  The test results I heard from them afterwards were sometimes worse than if they had taken closed-book tests.

I did not have much difficulty in either in these modes of testing (open and closed) because I had become very familiar with the test material prior to taking them. I had reviewed the notes and book references so much so beforehand that the questions on an exam did not come across as surprisingly new material.

Spiritual Tests
What is my point? Well, many of us Christians know all too well that we, God’s children, will be tested by our Father, by Satan, and by the world. These tests can be our trials. Other types would be the handling of everyday circumstances that tempt us to question or even reject our faith. Still other tests would be how to best to help other individuals cope and overcome their difficulties. In any case, they all are, I believe, spiritual tests in one form or another.

How well we pass these “tests” depends on how well we have prepared. Prepared? Yes, prepared ahead of time. How?

bible swordWe can prepare in many ways, but mostly by reading the Bible often, if not everyday. And as many of you already know, there are several ways of studying it. You can use devotional daily reading plans or correspondence courses.  You can study by subject using topical dictionaries and study Bibles. You can memorize scripture passages that have been significant to you and to others.

So, now come the tests. Here are some test questions you may receive:

Questions From Unconverted Seekers:
2) Who is God?
3) How do you know He exists?
4) Why should I study the Bible and get to know it?
5) What does the Bible say about evolution?
6) Is the concept of right and wrong obsolete? Is not everything regarding morality actually relative to the circumstances?

Social issues Questions:
1) Why is there so much crime?
2) Can the drug problems of society be solved?
3) How can I improve my marriage?
4) Why is this (specified) behavior a sin if everyone else is doing it?
5) What is wrong with same-sex marriage?

World Events Questions:
1) Is this world soon coming to an end?
2) Will the United Nations bring about a world having absolute peace?
3) How can this country (USA, UK, Canada, whatever) become a great nation?
4) What qualities should you look for before you vote for a political candidate?
5) Should we care about global warming? What does the Bible say about taking care of our planet?

imagePersonal Questions:
1) How can I save my marriage? How can I avoid getting a divorce?
2) How do I end my (drug, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc.) problem?
3) What should I first consider in determining my career?
4) Why is it wrong to kill myself?
5) My mother has Alzheimer’s disease. How can God help me?

To Open or Not To Open the Bible – That is the Question
How would you answer any or all of the above questions? Would you have a Bible readily available at hand openly in front of you? Sometimes, yes (open book); sometimes, no (closed book). There will be times when pulling out a Bible would turn someone off immediately. Many times it would not.

I believe the Holy Spirit will be your guide here as to how to answer questions that come your way.

Is The Christian Church A School?
The Christian Church, overall, is the Body of Christ – no matter what denomination, style or tradition. How? Well, as long as Jesus Christ is believed and the Holy Spirit works in each, she is the body of Christ.

But, because of ecclesiastical polity (how a Church or denomination is operated and governed), a church congregation may view herself differently from another congregation. One church may say she should mostly be run like a hospital for those who seek spiritual healing. Another group may say that it is important that priority be given to the sacraments such as the Eucharist.  Still another church assembles in order to mainly receive manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Yet another church believes that her only mission is to just feed the sheep by teaching the Bible and have its doors closed to the world. Are these churches wrong and therefore not the body of Christ? No, not necessarily.

Which ecclesiastical polity a church adopts is NOT my business. It is God’s business. God knows that people do think and learn differently. God knows full well that what is good for one person in a church denomination at one particular moment of time may not be suitable for him in another church. That is why, I believe, God places people in whatever church He sees fit. It is His business and His timing on how He educates His children, His sheep.

imageBut I believe, however, that the church is also (note: also) a school. I believe she does best to edify herself and others as a university! Why are there schools in the first place? Why are there colleges? Answer: To help individuals become productive for both themselves and for society. As we all know, overall ignorance is the cause of needless suffering.

And with that in mind, education, especially Biblical education, should be nurturing each Christian to fulfill the talents and abilities he or she has been given. And whenever new challenges and questions and even career opportunities (ministries, callings, missions, charities, etc.) present themselves, the disciple-student should adequately refer to the Bible – openly or from his heart – toward being educated spiritually. He needs to be taught to study by a teacher. Why? So that all those the disciple-student then socially comes into contact will see attributes of Jesus Christ. This is what witnessing Christ to the world is all about. And because of that, spiritual tests of our faith and knowledge will always be given to us.


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