Celebrating 25 years online! 1996-2021
NOTE: This is a written version of a message I delivered to a group of residents at Kings Daughters Community Health & Rehabilitation Center on October 5, 2014.
I wrote the following in my journal several weeks ago:
God, I sometimes wonder why You won't just show Yourself. You remind me that You require faith. "Why?" I ask.
How would you answer that? After all, He showed Himself in the Old Testament. Why not now? How would you answer that? There are a some things to consider:
First is what I call "the Puppy Analogy." I mentioned this in my 2007 article Hard Verses where I mentioned how Israel in the Old Testament experienced a different dispensation than the church does nowadays. In that article, I wrote the following:
Think about how an owner has to more severely discipline a puppy than the adult dog "which knows better." God's people had a different relationship with Him in the earlier times than when Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law. God was and is concerned with making His people holy - reflecting His glory. The Old Testament was more external in the relationship between man and God, while the New Testament is more internal in the relationship between man and God.
There is an outward versus inward principle. As a child, I needed to see my mother, literally and physically, more often than I do now. As an adult, I do not. I still love my mother and she still plays a special role in my life. However, the relationship is different. God's relationship with humanity has changed. He made a promise, which still stands, with His people in Israel. The Law focused on the externals and made them aware of their sins. Those who were saved were saved by faith, not by the Law. The same is true for the Gentile church (unnatural earthly seed - that is, not of Israel - and spiritual seed of faith in Christ) today where the church has been grafted in as adopted sons and daughters along with the true Israel (those "completed Jews" - the remnant of Romans 11 - naturally born of the tribes of Israel who also have the spiritual seed of faith in Christ). Consider circumcision, which was external in the Old Testament. Circumcision of the saved is internal; it is of the heart. Romans 2:28-29 (NASB) states the following:
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
A second consideration is how the internal change occurs. How is one changed? The answer is the Holy Spirit. Changing of the heart is what the Holy Spirit alone does. Laws do not change hearts. Sure, they can put up fences, but only the Holy Spirit makes one spiritually alive. Your job is to be faithful, come what may. You may tell someone of the Gospel - that Jesus Christ died in your place for your sins, was buried and rose again and His completed work is what saves you. Yet, that someone may or may not believe. Still, be faithful. After all, the recipient can only receive the truth in faith, a work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot convert or save anyone. Only the Holy Spirit can. There's no work we can do to gain it or lose it. We must simply believe it! Do you believe?
Even when you do not see God as Israel did in the Old Testament, be faithful. And, you know, God does show pointers to Himself even today! How? What are some of these pointers to Himself?
Years ago, I went to a DC Talk concert where they sang Mind's Eye and in the song, there is a meaningful Billy Graham quote where he says the following:
Can you see God? Have you ever seen Him? I've never seen the wind. I see the effects of the wind, but I've never seen the wind. There's a mystery to it.
And so, after writing in my journal, "God, I sometimes wonder why You won't just show Yourself," I continued writing to God:
You remind me that faith comes from hearts and You require the heart. "But why?" I ask.
How would you answer that? God laid the following on my heart and I continued writing:
You remind me that faith is believing and the heart will go on into eternity. My earthly eyes will not, but my heart will. Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ.
Mark 8:36 (NASB) states these words of Christ: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" What does that mean? There is nothing worth losing your soul for. The material things and circumstances are temporary. We need to keep our minds on higher things and store our treasures in Heaven. And treasures and pleasures go together. John Piper said the following when delivering some messages:
You show what your treasure is by what you take most pleasure in.
The soul tends to shrink to the size and the quality of its pleasures.
What are your pleasures? What are your treasures? Jesus covers this in Matthew 6:19-21 (NASB):
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Where is your heart? Where is your treasure? Do you have faith in Christ? Are you relying on works and things, which will perish? Or have you placed your faith in Him, thus claiming a treasure which will never perish? He is not surprised by your past, your present or your future. He has seen it and He loves you so much that He was willing to die for you, experience separation from perfect relationship and willingly submit Himself unto death. However, He did not stop there! What happened next? He rose again! Oh glorious day! He showed Himself. You may not have been there, but you were on His mind. You may not have seen Him, but the fact that I, a sinner and flawed man, proclaim Him is seeing the effect His Spirit has. You can't see the wind, but you can see the effects of the wind. Do you believe?
Believe in Him who is unseen! Consider 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NASB):
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
We are all still here. That means God is still working in your life if you know Him. In Philippians 1:6 (NASB) Paul wrote, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." So, why won't God show Himself? It is a matter of faith, treasures in eternity, and perhaps it is because He wants to show you His great work ... in you!
Ichthus Library: Personal Works