Do We Wait On God? Or Does God Wait On Us?
Posted by Job on November 8, 2007
While driving around, I heard this female prosperity preacher on the radio talking about people that had been tithing and giving their offerings but had not received their blessing yet. She attributed the reason for people not having received their blessing was the congregation suffering sinners and unbelievers among its midst, and that congregations needed to purify themselves of the contamination. She, as is typical of such preachers, referred to Old Testament examples, most specifically Ezra’s command for Israel to cease intermarrying with the pagan people. Thus, she allegorized the Israelites defiling their elected and set apart nation by intermarrying with pagans to the church defiling itself by refusing enforce church discipline. Thus, just as God withheld blessings from Old Testament Israel for their rejection of purity, God is withholding blessings from the church for the same reason.
It is a terrible shame that this woman’s obvious talent for preaching and the forum that had been afforded to her by the privilege and blessing to be able to reach people on the radio was wasted on this grotesquely perverted prosperity doctrine which teaches that God rewards the obedience of the Christian church with health and wealth. However, listening to her was more preferable to listening to national right wing radio talk show host Michael Gallagher (Gallagher the comedian is much more entertaining and less dangerous to your having a healthy state of mind) rant on about how some University of Maine professor who offered extra credit to any of his students that would burn an American flag or copy of the United States Constitution should be fired.
What is worse? What is more dangerous? The coercive idolatry of the conservative movement or the false doctrine of the prosperity teachers? Whatever the answer, it just so happened that my mood at that particular time was more conducive to suffering the latter than the former. And as it happens, the false teacher DID raise a sort of a theological dilemma for me. Does a sovereign omniscient timeless (meaning transcending and existing outside of time) God wait on man? And does man wait on God?
I say that the answer to the former is unknowable. Therefore, contemplating such would be precisely the sort of fruitless speculation that distracts us from more productive pursuits that the Bible warns us against. So we have to deal with the latter: does man wait on God? My answer at this time is yes and no, though not an equivocation. To deal with the yes first: we are awaiting the imminent return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, right? That part, at least, is obvious in terms of scripture, doctrine, and practical Christian living.
And that actually leads into the “no” portion. Acts 1:10 -11 “And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Instead of going after doctrines that tell you that you should do this thing or that thing expecting something from the Lord, we are to heed to exhortation given by the church to those angels: to go!
And where is it that we should go? Wherever there are hungry people needing to be fed. Wherever there are naked people needing to be clothed. Wherever there are sick people needing to be tended to. Wherever there are broken hearted people needing to be comforted. Wherever there are poor and oppressed people that need advocacy. Wherever there are homeless people that need shelter. Wherever there are orphans that need adoption. Wherever there are those in prison that need forgiveness. Wherever there are desperate, lonely, hurting, troubled people out there – and we know that there are plenty of those – that is where Christians should be with our presence, our efforts, and our gospel of Jesus Christ that is not only preached with our words but evident through our actions.
And realize this: we do not have to wait on God or anything from Him in order to do these things. We do not need the permission or guidance of a pastor, membership or position church, or “a word or revelation from the Lord” through a prophet. Why? Because the commandments to do these things are written in God’s Word. Jesus Christ told us to do these things Himself. As such, we know that it is God’s Will for us to do these things, and we also know that as it is God’s Will for us to do these things, He has provided us with everything that we need to obey Him in these matters. It is not a matter of resources, for doing a great many of these things do not require great means or know how.
It is not a matter of faith, for we were all born with a measure of faith, and those of us that are born again have the Holy Spirit to embolden and empower us to do what God would have us to do. So the only thing lacking, then, is our obedience, which may be the result of a tainted mindset that results in our refusal to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). And that is actually where the prosperity preacher referenced above was actually correct … the importance of refraining from spiritual adultery, defilement, and crossbreeding. The mind is a terrible thing to either waste or trash, people, and if you put garbage into it you will get garbage out of it!
The ultimate point is this: while beliefs are important, works are important as well. Instead of waiting on God to justify our faith with material blessings, signs, and wonders that are the meat of the spiritually weak and immature, we should heed the words of James 2:17-18 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Even regarding Christians with whom we might disagree with upon occasion concerning doctrines, we can know one another by other by our works and have unity and brotherhood by our shared delighting and giving thanks unto God for such works and His Will being done and His Resurrection and Life being made known to the Body of Christ and to the world through them.
Claiming that such is not a fair test is untrue, because Jesus Christ imposes the same test. Quoting Matthew 25:32-43: “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.”
So if you are not doing the things that Jesus Christ told you to do, you are living in sin, walking in disobedience. How can anyone deny this to be so? And no, despite what certain false teachers mislead you into believing, writing checks to a ministry is not works. You do not feed the hungry, heal the sick, help the poor, and fulfill the great commission by joining some “covenant partner friends seed club.” Do not mistake me, supporting legitimate ministries financially is outstanding and should be done generously, and giving is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is just that underwriting the good works of others is no substitute for doing your own works. Lydia of Acts, a woman of great means, did not merely underwrite the spread of the gospel, but opened her home to the believers. So these misleading ministries that lure and teach Christians into disobedience by thinking that they can avoid the challenging aspects of Christianity by writing checks are not worthy of support. I will give you a couple of names that come to the top of my head that engage in this deceptive tactic: Pat Robertson and Jesse DuPlantis. But there are others.
There are also some doctrines that purport to say that you need to be “spiritually ready” or “spiritually prepared” to do such activities, or that you need some sort of training. Some others claim that we need some special call from the Lord to do these things. Where does that appear in the Bible? I have not seen it. Claiming that you must wait on God to raise you up to do these things implies that the people that are doing them already have been prepared or raised up by God, and as such are somehow more dedicated, righteous, knowledgeable, holy, etc. than the mere Christian rabble. Evil lies such as this only serve to create hierarchical divisions within the Body of Christ, inflate certain personalities, and turn what should be humble service unto God into things that the self – seeking abuse for power, prestige, and other earthly rewards for themselves.
So instead of following some doctrine that teaches you that you have to wait on God or that God has to wait on you for some material wealth, gift of the Holy Spirit, or other thing not yet realized, go about and do that which God has already commanded you to do in His Word and equipped you to do with His Holy Spirit.