“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Triple Test, by Randall D. Kittle

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When I was a kid growing up, I used to love to watch NFL football on television. One of the more common commercials they aired during breaks in the gridiron action was by a razor blade manufacturer. Of course, they weren’t selling just any run-of-the-mill razor blades. To prove their design was superior, all of their blades had been “triple tested.” Each blade was tested for sharpness, strength, and durability.

In the twelfth chapter of 2 Corinthians the apostle Paul reveals for us the triple test of the faith designed to “test the metal” of every believer. First, Paul ascends to the heights of glory by telling us of his trip to the third heaven.
“I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. … caught up to the third heaven. … caught up to paradise. … hearing inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell” (2 Corinthians 12:1–4). This first test is the test of the marvelous, when we rise to rare experiences. The peril of the spiritual pinnacle is that we may become boastful — too big in our own eyes. In this we may get our eyes off the Lord and focused instead upon ourselves or our elevated experiences. Only by God’s grace can we remain humble, keeping our eyes sharply focused on Him and realizing that all we have, all we have experienced, all we have accomplished is because of His graciousness toward us.

Next, Paul drops from height to depth as he recounts his thorn in the flesh.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Corinthians 12:8). Here is the test of the mysterious — when we descend to unexplainable trials, those thorns that God does not remove. The peril of the pit is that we may become bewildered and disheartened. We know that hope deferred makes the heart sick (see Proverbs 13:12), and we must be careful not to become bogged down in discouragement and despair. If we will lay hold of God’s grace, He will give us the strength to lift our heads to look beyond our situation to see He who is our blessed hope.

Then Paul rises to the glorious discovery that God’s grace is sufficient for all the days.
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:9). There is the test of the monotonous, the day-by-day, perhaps the hardest test of all. The peril of the tedious is that we may become bored, complacent, and lethargic. It is in the ongoing everyday things we are most likely to become lukewarm. In the heights of the marvelous we may be sustained by the thrill and exaltation of it. In the depths of the mysterious we may be driven by desperation to meet God in our frailty and infirmity. But in the monotonous, the run-of-the-mill experiences, when life seems bland and without meaning, our endurance may be most sorely tried. When the circumstances around us neither lift us up to exaltation nor drive us to our knees in intercession, when we are called to simply march out the mundane, we must allow God’s enduring grace to keep us fixed upon the One who yet remains faithful and true.

When Jesus walked this earth, He experienced all three of these tests, for He was tried in all points as we are. His atoning work has acquired for us an enduring, strengthening, sharpening grace which is sufficient for all three of these perils on our spiritual journey: for the lofty pinnacle, for the lowly pit, for the tedious trek. As we accept His all-sufficient grace, we too will pass the triple test of the enemy’s triple threat, and change it into a triple triumph for His glory.


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