For it is by grace you have been saved...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Does God Need You?

I heard the most interesting thing last night. A rather well known denominational person said in a message that it doesn’t matter how mighty we say God is, that unless we make ourselves available revival will never come. Now, I understand where he’s coming from, I think. God does indeed choose to work through weak vessels such as us. But is it right to say that without us, He can’t work?

He used the illustration of a major league pitcher who has a 95 mile an hour fastball. But if he blows out his elbow joint, he can’t even lob the ball underhanded. Is that really a picture of God’s power without us? God’s power is helpless and useless without us? Again, I know he was just trying to motivate us and remind us of the great responsibility and great privilege we have to be used by God for Kingdom purposes in this world. But to imply that God’s might is lost without us? Does God need you?

One of the weaknesses in the modern “gospel” is that God is helpless without us, that He needs us to work for Him, that He needs our fellowship, that He needs…whatever. Dr. Voddie Baucham calls this the “sissified, needy Jesus.” In preaching about the holiness of God, Dr. Baucham addresses this and says:

By definition God needs nothing. God does not need you and He’s going to prove it one day ‘cause you’re going to die and the world’s going to keep on spinning at the same rate it was before you were here and somebody’s going to get all your stuff.

God calls us to serve Him. He chooses to work through us. He delights to do it through us. As John Piper has said in Brothers We Are Not Professionals, “God loves to bless His people. But even more He loves to do it in answer to prayer.” He writes in that same place that “How astonishing it is that God wills to do His work through people. It is doubly astonishing that He ordains to fulfill His plans by being asked to do so by us.

But that’s not that same thing as implying that God needs us and is powerless to bring revival and powerless to save lost sinners without us. As the Prince of Preachers once said in a message on The Eternal Truth of God:

God does not need any of us. We think ourselves mightily important, and we really are no more important to God’s plans than the caterpillar in the kitchen garden is to a Napoleon when he is marching his armies across a continent. We are nothings and nobodies, except when God pleases to use us; and he can do better without us than with us sometimes, for we get in his way. Oh, brethren, matters are all right, for they are in God’s hands. The everlasting God lives, and he will work his purposes, for he is the true God. The heathen will be converted to Christ, for the Lord has said, “Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” “As I live,” saith the Lord, “surely all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” It shall be done, it must be done. Rest you sure of it.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying, and Pastor Spurgeon was not implying, that salvation comes apart from God’s chosen means as well as His divine power. He has chosen the proclamation of the Gospel as the means through which lost men come to Christ. He does indeed work through His people…most of the time.

I say most of the time, because the truth is that there are countless testimonies of people coming into contact with God’s Word, reading it, and through His divine providence coming to faith in Christ. But God most often uses the preaching of the Word, the testimony of His people. Not because He needs us, but because He delights in His power being made known in our weakness.

We should never use this as an excuse to not serve, not proclaim, not testify. But know that we do those things simply because a holy, righteous, all powerful God has commanded us to do them, not because He needs us.

Folks, our pride is already a big enough problem. We don’t need to be told that the God of the Universe is not powerful enough to accomplish His purposes without us. We already think more our ourselves than of God. And one last time, I know this speaker was only trying to help us see that we are called to serve, that God does indeed choose to work through His servants. But God doesn’t need you. We ought to respond in obedience simply because He commands it, not because we have a view of God that is so low that we see Him as that sissified, needy Jesus.

And for your viewing pleasure and edification, here’s the clip from Voddie Baucham’s message which is quoted above.

1 comment:

Persis said...

Good post for calling it what it is. The version I'm familiar with had a low view of God's absolute sovereignty because He needed the prayers/cooperation of the church in order for His will to be done.