God knows all things, because He is omnipotent. It is written, 'You alone know the hearts of men' (1). That means that before the creation of the world God knew who would be on earth, what everybody would think and do, and who would be saved.
- If that is true, why did God leave Hezekiah to see what he would do when the envoys of Babylon visited him (2)? When he showed them all his riches and splendor it demonstrated that he was proud and it displeased God.
- In Deuteronomy 8:2 the Israelites are reminded of how God led them in the desert to test them to know what was in their hearts.
It puzzled me that an omnipotent God would wait to see what was in the hearts of people by the way they acted. That is, until I had an experience that solved the riddle for me.
I believe that what happened to my wife and I explains, in some small way, what God wants to know and see. We had been married for almost 40 years when a person whom we trusted took off with our money. During this crisis (quite something to be poor at the age of 64) I watched my wife in action. She did not waver in the crisis, but we just carried on praying together, deciding how to change our lifestyle to accommodate our new situation. Instead of bailing out after nearly 40 years of marriage, she remained loyal. Is it any surprise therefore that I appreciate her more, love her more and trust her completely? That is what God is looking for - 'I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity' (3). Jesus has many friends and followers when the going is easy. Often that changes when the going gets tough. Take note of the seven letters to the churches in Asia. Those who overcome will inherit the kingdom (4).
What would happen if God doesn't test us? At the end of this age, at the judgment, the books will be opened, as well as the book of life (5). The dead will be judged according to what they had done. Deeds are seen, but thoughts are secret and only God knows them. God's absolute righteous and fair judgement will be demonstrated, not based on thoughts, but on deeds. For example, one person was a believer, albeit a fairly 'lazy' one, and the other an atheist. The latter lived a 'good' upright life. Before the throne, he might question God about his neighbor who was supposed to be a Christian. Would God answer that the man's heart was honest and he had good intentions? Would that satisfy the atheist? I doubt, because he won't accept it, but argue that he also had good intentions, so God is very unjust. God is not unjust, but just, so He tests people to demonstrate by their actions what is in their hearts. Those actions comprise God's written record of each person. Every man's actions will be made public for all to see and God will be vindicated as the righteous Judge.
Therefore it is logical that we are measured and tested by what we do and not by what we think. It is written that faith without deeds is useless (6), as demons also have faith in God. They know He is real, but they hate Him (7).
- 2 Chronicles 6:10b
- 2 Chronicles 32:31
- 1 Chronicles 29:17a
- Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5,12, 21
- Revelation 20:11-13
- James 2:24
- James 2:19