THE NONSTOP GOD
When the Son of God stood with His incarnate feet on Palestine soil, He said, “My Father is working until now …” (Jn 5:17). And we conclude that He is still working today.
If we conclude from Scripture that God knows the future, then we must conclude that He knows what He is doing by working all things “together for good to those who love” Him in the present. If we come to this conclusion, then we may be somewhat frustrated with our own lack of ability to understand what He is doing in the present in order to bring about that which is good for His children. But most important, we might struggle with our faith that He is able to bring about the finality of His eternal purpose for this world.
We assume that God is presently working. But our difficulty is perception. We have a difficult time perceiving His present work in the affairs of this world, and specifically, in our lives. This is particularly difficult for “inactive Christians,” if there is such a thing. Those who have their lives programmed with a rigid schedule are at a loss to determine that God is working in their lives. Those who are so consumed with the affairs of this world, have a difficult time perceiving the work of God. This is the sadness about those who are doing nothing in the realm of walking by faith. If our faith takes us only to a non-relational assembly with others who are also “dead in the water,” then no one is perceiving, or experiencing the work of God in their lives. Unless one is launching by faith out into the deep waters of work for Jesus, then he has no realm in which to perceive God’s work in his life. It is easy to have faith while standing in the boat. But it takes faith to jump in deep waters and walk. If we do not walk by faith, we will have little faith in the One who is able to reach down and answer our cries for help. Just ask Peter.
We need to take this quest for the abundant life beyond our personal lives. We must enter into the realm of God’s work in the world of affairs around us. In order to do this, we go to our source book by first examining the faith of the saints in the Old Testament who walked in the comfort of God’s directing hand. The faith of these giants of faith is revealed through their steadfastness while living through the apostasy of Israel, and often not perceiving that God was even working through their sin. Their faith was revealed throughout Israel’s history in the wilderness wanderings, during the time of the constant torment of the Canaanites whom Israel did not flush out of the promised land, as well as their eventual going into Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. They simply, or magnificently, trusted that God was working.
It is always challenging to understand that God is working throughout the worst of circumstances. But if we conclude that He is working all things together for good for His people, then we must hold to this conclusion, regardless of the doom and despair that we might be enduring in our present lives.
We have found that some have difficulty believing in a God who is working things out for the good of those who are enduring the sufferings of this world. But the God in whom the Christian believes is not impotent in reference to the affairs of man. We are not deist, that is, believing that God created the world and then walked away. We believe in a God who “is not far from every one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being” (At 17:27,28).
God’s work in the affairs of man did not begin two thousand years ago. It has been His business since the beginning. Jesus reminded the Jews, “My Father is working until now …” (Jn 5:17). And so, this is the conclusion we take away from Galatians 4:4. “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son ….” God was working from the beginning to bring Jesus into the world. The beginning of what eventually concluded in the “fullness of time,” reached back to the very beginning of time, before the Garden of Eden, before the first “Let-there-be” statement was made and the earth sprang into existence (See 1 Pt 1:19,20). We believe in the working plan wherein our Savior was crucified before the creation of this world (See Mt 13:35; Ep 1:4; 1 Pt 1:20). We believe in an involved God who worked from the very beginning of that which exists to the “fullness of time” at the climax of the cross. But we also do not believe that God went on vacation at the cross.
God’s involvement in the affairs of the world since the beginning of time assumes that there is purpose to this world, and that purpose is Divine. The “fullness of time” marked only one milestone of His work in time. One milestone was accomplished at the cross. This was a salvational milestone that was measured by the “fullness of time.” But since the cross, we have entered into another time zone, of which it too will come to a fullness. This fullness of time will end in the crown. And because we have not yet reached this milestone, we conclude that God is still working in the affairs of mankind in order to bring about His eternal plan for us.
Our foreknowing God has worked throughout history in order to bring into His eternal glory and presence those who will make a free-moral choice to serve Him. He is the God in whom “we live and move and have our being.” He is a God who cannot keep His hands off His creation. And because He cannot keep His hands off, He is “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hb 1:3) in order to get us to our crown at the end of all things.
In order to increase our faith in this God in whom we believe, we must go back in history to an era where we might conclude that things got out of control. At least those who were experiencing the calamity of those times might think that God had vacated His creation and forsaken His people. We go back to the history of Israel in order to be reminded that our God is in the midst of His work right now, as He was with Israel, in order to bring about the intervention of His Son again into the affairs of man. Our case that our God is transcendent—He intervenes in the affairs of this world—is proved by the Bible record of His work among His people, which work will not conclude until we hear the sound of a last trumpet. This is a thrilling story of God working all things together for the good of all those who walk by faith. We know that it is often difficult to perceive His work during times of struggle. But we must keep in mind the crowd of Old Testament witnesses who remained faithful in their struggles, while they too found it difficult to look around to find tangible evidence of His presence (Read Hb 11). But reading of their faith is such an exciting story. It is one from which we cannot walk away without believing that the one true and living God is the one “in whom we live and have our being.” He is a God whose presence is not defined by our words concerning distance, but a God who is simply here and there at the same time. He is not confined to the definition of our words, nor to the hands on our clocks. His being and work are not limited to the definition of the words in our dictionary.