What Would Grandpa Say?
editor's note: Published in the May 2015 issue of Think magazine,
used by authors permission.]
God is Working in your
God,... are You There?
by Jim Mettenbrink
Where is God?
It is often said that the founders of the United States were Deists.
Except for a few, their writings refute this notion. Deism?
In a nut shell, it is the belief that God created this world and then
went on vacation, leaving man to his own devices. In other words,
God is not active in the world today. If so, man is truly his own
god, walking aimlessly through this jungle of life. Well, not really
aimlessly, but on the path of self-made hedonistic utopia.
Deism has not always been in the worlds
closet. Although Deism had been promoted in Britain in the 1700s by
Hume and Locke, it was Thomas Paines entrance into the 18th-century
with Age of Reason that popularized Deism in the USA. Deism
reached its peak in the 1830s and 1840s. Darwins Origin
of the Species (1859) influenced many Deists who simply become atheists.
After all, if God is not active in the world, maybe the supreme being
does not exist at all!
Deism is hardly mentioned today, however,
although the raw numbers are very small, from 1990 to 2000 those openly
espousing Deism increased 717%. Deism is the ideal for the person
who concludes that the complex design of the creation demands a supreme
creator, but who has been propagandized with the Secular Humanist mindset
and its child, Postmodernism. Modern Deism, simply stated is God created
us, but He left us to make our own ever-changing rules of ethics and morality.
This is not the biblical perspective of God, but in listening to some
Christians, it appears they have not grasped just how much God is involved
in the affairs of men, nations and individuals. If the Bible sets
forth anything at all, it is that God is all over everywhere, all the time.
One has to be totally ignorant of the Bible or suffering from a chronic
case of self deception to deny that fact.
Refuting Deisms claim, God has been
continuously active from immediately after the creation. He gave Adam
and Eve a simple standard of conduct dont eat of the tree of
knowledge of good and evil. When they violated it, He punished them
(Genesis 3:16-19). Was the worldwide flood a mere natural phenomenon
or was it caused by an active God? After the creation, the Bible states
God said, Lord said or, word of the Lord
nearly 550 times. Was He talking to Himself or someone on earth? Indeed,
Gods activity was giving instruction how man should live in order
to please Him. That does not sound like an inactive God!
Gods involvement is most notable in
the prophecies of the nations. Because so much of the Old Testament
records the details of Gods involvement with ancient Israel, one should
not conclude that He was not involved with the other nations, or nations
today. God sent Jonah to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, to warn
them of their destruction. The entire city repented, so God relented
in His plan to bring disaster upon them (Jonah 3). After Assyria had
destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel and exiled the people, Jerusalem
was spared destruction and God destroyed the Assyrian army because King
Hezekiah prayed (2 Kings 19:15-20, 35-37). Just how Divinely active
was God in that?
Even a cursory reading of the Old Testament,
reveals God is active in the rise, the direction, and fall of all nations.
indignation of the Lord is against all nations, and His fury against all
their armies.... (Isaiah 34:2).
Jeremiah gives prophecies of the destruction of various nations in
chapters 46-51. We summarily conclude, God is active in all nations
very existence. But how active is God in the affairs of individuals
and if so how is He active? Lets begin with the prophets.
One might argue that prophets were especially
chosen for Gods particular purpose. True, God chose them to
do His will. For example, Jeremiah wrote of Gods special selection
I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations
(Jeremiah 1:5). And He was directly involved in their prophesying.
The apostle Peter wrote ...that
no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy
never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved
by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter
1:21). For example Ezekiel recognized and acknowledged the inspiration
of God Then
the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I
heard Him who spoke to me
(Ezekiel 2:4). Further, in contrast to the false prophets who were
deceiving Israel, Micah said of himself, But truly I am full of power by the Spirit of the
Lord, and of justice and might, To declare to Jacob his transgression and
to Israel his sin (Micah 3:8).
To be clear, God did not interfere in the free will of the prophets.
After the contest between the false prophets of Baal and Elijah to
provide the miraculous evidence that Jehovah is God, he ran away to hide
because he was afraid of Jezebel (1 Kings 18:22-19:3). This inspired
prophet deserted in a moment of weakness. Note, God did not stop Elijah
from exercising his own will.
Gods involvement continued in the New
Testament after Jesus ascended into heaven. Fifty-five times the Holy
Spirit is referred to in the book of Acts. Certainly, the Holy Spirit
was the Divine agent who came upon the apostles (Acts 2) and through whom,
He gave the miraculous spiritual gifts (Acts 8:14-17). A reading of
Acts also shows the Holy Spirit was directing the evangelistic work of the
early church. Barnabus and Paul were sent out by the Holy Spirit
on their first mission journey (Acts 13:2-4). He chose the places
where they should evangelize Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region
of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in
Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia,
but the Spirit did not permit them
(Acts 16:6-7). Some might argue that was then (biblical era), but
this is now. Is God active in our personal lives now? If not,
then the deist has a point, at least in part!
The New Testament is the Christians
God-given handbook by which to live All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and
is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
in righteousness (2 Timothy
3:16). It tells us God is active in our lives. No temptation has overtaken you
except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow
you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will
also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor 10:13); the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations... (2 Peter 2:9). He knows each Christians
character and heart; our weaknesses and strengths. God is active!
Perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses amongst
Christians is fully submitting to the Lord. God wants
all of us to take part in doing His singular goal save the lost and
keeping them saved (Matthew 28:19-20). Those two commands require
that we examine ourselves: (1) Is my attitude toward the lost the same as
Gods? (2) Am I striving to fully prepare to save the lost (Ephesians
6:11-20)? (3) Am I trying to discover my talents and abilities and
organize my time to fulfill Gods commands? (4) Am I praying
for wisdom to fulfill Gods commands? (Romans 8:26-27; Colossians
No doubt, the devil will throw rocks in your
path, trying to discourage you to the point you quit! Remember Romans
8:31-39! Often people believe they dont know the scriptures
well enough to show the way of salvation to others. The remedy is
to study the Bible. Also a great book regarding winning souls is Muscle
and a Shovel. It is the account of one mans struggle to
become a Christian and it reveals the young soul winner who knew how to
approach a person to prompt him to think of his eternal destiny.
There is nothing in the New Testament which
indicates God has stopped directing evangelism. It must be our purpose
to allow Him to use us to take the gospel to the lost in His mission to
save the lost. The quizzical aspect of evangelism is how God connects
those carrying the gospel to those with receptive hearts. Basically,
it is sowing the word of God to all. It is easier to see Gods
hand by looking back in time. It becomes clear that God brought the
lost person and the Christian together. He is active in His work!
However, it is up to us to allow Him to use us.
Over a period of months, nearly 40 years ago,
and as a new Christian, grandpa was in frequent discussion to teach his
assistant about salvation. He never became a Christian. However,
our typist overheard these discussions. One day when we were alone,
he asked, Can I become a Christian? He did so and in the
first five months baptized five people into Christ. He then preached
for nearly 30 years. So a new Christian can be effective in bringing
the lost to Christ.
About 30 years ago, a man was baptized. Within
a week and frequently thereafter, he called grandpa to come in the evening
and teach a person who had agreed to study their relationship with God.
Over the next year, six were baptized because of his boldness and
encouragement for people to consider their eternity, yet he knew little
of the scriptures at that time. Did God connect these to men with
open hearts with grandpa? Surely this was not mere chance!
Grandpa says be diligent to prepare to sow
Gods word, but always set out to interest people in their eternity
and know to whom to go for them to be taught. He is waiting for you.
And as the apostle Paul wrote, But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you
and guard you from the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord
concerning you, both that you do and will do the things we command you (2 Thessalonians 3:3-4).