Does God give us tests He knows we won’t pass?
God certainly gave Peter a test He knew Peter wouldn’t pass, so why wouldn’t God do the same to us?
Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Look at Peter’s situation as an example:
Peter denied Jesus 3 times. Jesus told Peter beforehand that he would deny Him, so He clearly knew it would happen, yet God let Peter go through that failure anyway.
Did Peter have the strength from God to pass that test? Absolutely.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it.
Peter’s temptation was to lie and deny even knowing Jesus.
So Peter had the strength he needed to overcome that temptation to lie, he just didn’t lean on that strength and instead he gave in to his own fear and uncertainty. But God didn’t condemn Peter for that (Romans 8:1).
Instead, Jesus made sure Peter was one of the first ones to know that He had risen (Mark 16:7).
Then in John chapter 21, Jesus made sure Peter had learned from his failure by giving Peter a chance to proclaim his love to Jesus 3 times. Peter wasn’t defeated by what happened, and Jesus made sure of this. Instead, Peter grew and went on to do amazing things for God’s Kingdom.
John chapter 21 really shows how merciful God is. Peter denied knowing Jesus, yet God made sure Peter was good and made sure he had learned from his failure before Jesus ascended into heaven.
This example brings up 4 big questions.
#1: Does God know everything that’s going to happen?
The Bible says in Psalm 139:16 that “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:4 says “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all.”
The Bible also says that God “knows everything” (1 John 3:20) and “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).
So God clearly knows everything that’s going to happen in our lives – and that obviously includes every test we’re going to be given.
God already knows ahead of time what’s going to happen and whether or not we’re going to pass a test. That means when we fail a test, God knew that was going to happen.
To reiterate the fact that God knows everything that’s going to happen, Paul talked about predestination and being “chosen”. Paul said this because he understood that God knows everything and He already knows who will chose to follow Jesus and who won’t.
Ephesians 1:5 says “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,”
Some well-meaning Christians have taken this to mean that only certain people have been predestined to go to heaven and no one else can go, but that mindset is completely false and does not line up with the Bible.
For example, 1 Timothy 1:1-4 says:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
When people say that God only chooses certain people to go to heaven, they’ve let pride take over their mindset because that’s completely against God’s nature as it’s described in the Bible. The Bible says God is love (1 John 4:8) and God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 1:3-4).
#2: Are God’s plans going to happen no matter what?
Isaiah 46:10 says:
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
The NLT version of that verse is pretty blunt about it:
Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.
Isaiah 14:24 says:
The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.
Acts 5:39 shows us that if something is from God, people will not be able to stop it.
So God’s plan – to save His people and for every nation to hear about the Good News – will happen.
But that doesn’t mean that people won’t reject Him or die without knowing Him along the way.
We live in a broken world and bad things happen, so when people ignore God and then something bad happens and they die without knowing Him, it’s a tragedy, but they had a chance to know Him.
For people who die without having the chance to know Christ, we have to believe that – because God is good and God is love – He won’t condemn people who didn’t know any better. He’s a just God, and therefore we can trust in Him.
So if you “fail” a test and don’t speak to someone about Christ, for example, their eternal destiny was never in your hands. We have to trust that God either gave them the chances they needed or that He will take care of them if they didn’t know any better. That’s where trusting God comes in.
The point is, the Bible makes it clear that God’s purpose will stand so it isn’t dependent on you passing a test. God is much more powerful than that.
#3: Does that mean we can just fail every test God gives us?
You can fail every test God ever gives you, and God’s will will still be done. God’s not depending on you for His well-being. But that doesn’t mean you’re not important. God would LOVE to use you to achieve His will, but if you choose to not participate in His plans, He’s already lined up another way to do it. He’s chosen you to be a part of it, but it’s up to you whether or not you accept and join what God is doing.
What’s so refreshing is He already knows whether or not you’re going to help. So failing tests is a part of growth. It’s going to happen, and God makes everything work for the good of His people (Romans 8:28) no matter what, but don’t abuse His grace by choosing to sit on the sideline.
God’s plans are going to happen despite our failures, but that doesn’t give us a license to quit. God gives us the chance to participate in building His Kingdom and saving the world because He loves us and wants us to grow.
He also gives us the opportunity to do His work because it shows Him what’s inside of us and it shows Him we’re following Him.
Jesus said we would know His people by their fruits (Matthew 7:16). If you keep opting out of every opportunity God gives you to produce “fruit” in your life, that’s an outward sign that you’re not trusting Him with everything.
So learn from the tests you fail, but don’t throw opportunities away by taking God’s grace as a license to quit on the tests He gives you.
#4: If God knows what’s going to happen, why does He let it play out?
First, He loves us too much to take away our free will.
He could make us all slaves and do away with free will; then everything would go exactly according to His plan, but that wouldn’t be very loving.
Second, we’ll never be able to understand all of God’s ways.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
So trying to wrap your head around free will vs. predestination is not something we were ever meant to process. There are many things we just have to trust God in. This is one of those areas.
God gives us clues in His Word about how it all works, but He also leaves room for faith. We have to choose to trust in the fact that God made everything in the universe, so He obviously knows what He’s doing.
Most importantly, we have to understand that God wants everyone to come back to Him.
But that doesn’t always happen. People often die before they come back to Him.
God hasn’t ended the world because He wants everyone on earth to have an opportunity to come to Him. Matthew 24:14 says the Gospel must reach every nation before the end will come.
It’s our jobs as Christians to give everyone an opportunity to know God through Jesus Christ.
Based on everything the Bible says about God, we have to trust that He will not condemn people who never had a chance to know Him. However, Romans 1:20 says humans are without excuse for not knowing God.
At the end of the day, rest in the fact that, while God is using tests in our lives to grow us and spread His Kingdom, God’s Kingdom is also not dependent on us. He allows us to be a part of it, though, which should make you feel pretty special.