DOES GOD NEED OUT HELP?
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
SEPTEMBER 16, 2016
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:3, NIV)
This interesting topic originated in a recent fellowship session via Skype with two brothers in the Beaverton, Oregon area. One of them attends a church which teaches that God needs our help, our hands, our willingness to do His bidding in order to accomplish His purposes on earth. This is not a new thought, for sure, and in fact, there are many scriptures which urge us to help each other, to visit the sick, aid the downtrodden, succor the impoverished, and share the gospel with as many as will listen. That’s the “Great Commission” in a nutshell: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20, NIV) The question though, is does God really need our help, or is He actually helping us when we think we’re helping Him? Aren’t we the ones who need His help? Are we attempting to steal some of His glory by taking credit for what He does through us?
We had a lively discussion about this because I posited that God does not need us for anything at all, though He does use us for many things. One of my scriptures is the one just quoted in Job, and if you haven’t done so in a while, I urge you to read Job, chapters 38-42 again. To poor Job, who in spite of his physical anguish, took God to task for punishing him with the loss of everything he held dear, God asked, “Who marked off its (the earth’s) dimension? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set or who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:5-6, NIV)
After several more chapters of piercing questions for Job to answer, God concludes that if Job were able to “look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand; bury them all in the dust together, shroud their faces in the grave, then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.” (Job 40:12-14, NIV). That’s getting to the nitty gritty of where I think this article is going, because most churches who proclaim that God needs our help, expand the mandate by definition to include our responsibility to obey the rules, keep the faith, confess what must be confessed, renounce our sins, and participate in whatever other actions they deem necessary to secure our salvation. The real question to me though, is God able to save us through Christ alone, or must we participate, help Him out in some way to accomplish the goal?
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know what my answer is to God’s demanding question to Job, “Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” (Job 41:10-11, NIV) No one can stand against God’s will!
I used to believe God needed my help, my obedience, my due diligence in serving Him in order to be saved, but then like Job, I finally got over myself, had the scales peeled from my eyes, and saw like Job did, that “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:3-6, NIV) This is precisely the message God sent Lenny to proclaim to the Baptist men’s Sunday School class, the reason why He called us here to Neosho in 1998. These men all knew about God, but they didn’t know God personally, because they were so busy keeping the rules and judging each other and themselves as to their success in doing so that they never experienced the PRESENCE of Father God, wherein we encounter His unconditional love.
Without personally experiencing His love, we may fool ourselves and others into thinking we are “good Christians,” but inwardly, we are impoverished, frightened, unloving, and very, very judgmental of others and even of ourselves. Like the Pharisees of old, we are a whited sepulcher full of dead men’s bones! Fear rules us until we encounter His perfect love which casts out fear (I John 1:18). When we walk in fear, we can forget about sharing the gospel with anyone else. We’ve never heard it ourselves, or if we did, we have become “like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” (James 1:23-24, NIV) This perfectly describes one who having begun with the Spirit, is now ending with the flesh (Galatians 3:3).
Of what did Job repent, you ask? The same thing I have repented of, which is the hubris to believe that my will carries any weight in the matter of salvation, justification, and purification. What did I do before the creation of the world to qualify for being chosen in Christ, “to be holy and blameless in his sight? To be predestined to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” (Ephesians 1:4-6, NIV) I did the same thing you did and the Apostle Paul did, and Peter, James and John did, precisely nothing! It was all God, from rocky start to glorious finish!
Whose will is it that determines the events on this earth? Paul is unequivocal in his answer to this question: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.” (Ephesians 1:11, NIV) Back in the day when my dear friend John Gavazzoni was pastor for the church I attended, he often quoted this verse, but it didn’t ring a bell with me until the Spirit shined His light on it for me. Now it is emblazoned in my heart and mind. Ephesians 1:11, has gone a long, long way toward setting me free from judgment of others as well as constant condemnation of my own mistakes and shortcomings.
Knowing that God alone is in charge; that Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth, and that, “God has consigned all men to disobedience that He may have mercy upon all.” (Romans 11:32) has liberated me in a way that I never was before. We Christians have pretty much blown off Jesus’ commandment to “Judge not,” and we certainly have failed to get the beam out of our own eye before trying to get the spec out of our brother’s eye (See Matthew 7:1-5).
So many of us have been hung up on our choices, as if our choice had any eternal merit. We condemn others for the choices we think they have made without realizing that God is the only one in the Universe who has free will. He’s the only one whose choice counts. This is going to get some of your knickers in a twist, as the Brits put it, but there it is. If All things are worked after the counsel of God’s will, then He is the only one who has free will. We do not!
Did we choose Christ before the foundation of the world? Not according to Paul; God did that. Did we choose to sin? Not according to Paul: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:18-20, NIV) I truly resonate to that, how about you?
For years, drug and alcohol addiction was considered a choice, a moral weakness, rather than an illness. Is Diabetes a choice? Cancer? Alzheimer’s? Arthritis? Stroke? Emphysema? Coronary heart disease? Mental illness? High blood pressure? Kleptomania? HOMOSEXUALITY? Now that I have your attention, pray with me for a greater, deeper understanding of the depths of judgment inherent in us which alienates us from God and from each other, and which consistently prevents us from recognizing our own sins because we are too busy judging what we believe are sins in other people!
In his September 15th meditation, entitled “From Disconnection to Connection,” Fr. Richard Rohr was speaking about the things which separate us from God’s presence. He concluded, “Our sense of disconnection is only an illusion. Nothing human can stop the flow of divine love; we cannot undo the eternal pattern even by our worst sin. God is always winning, and God’s love will win. Love does not lose, nor does God lose. Nothing can stop the relentless outpouring force that is the divine dance.” End Quote.
Father, we thank you that You called us to be your sons from before the foundation of the world, and that Your presence allows us to feel and taste and share Your unconditional love, without which, this world would be a tragic, miserable wasteland. We thank You most of all that our sonship, our salvation, our sanctification and justification does not depend upon our feeble efforts to save ourselves, but upon Your might and power and glory flowing into our lives and like rivers of living water, flowing out to those You have given us to love. As it was from the beginning, and ever more shall be, we join our voices with “the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” To God be the glory, world without end. Amen.
DOES GOD NEED OUR HELP? [Jan A. Antonsson] 09-15-16 1