Skip to main content

Opinion: God's work or man's?

The following has caused me to consider modern day, "outreach" or "ministry" and to ask, "Is this really the leading and work of God?", and if not, "What should in look like?"

Referring to George Whitfield as quoted in "The Pilgrim Church" (E.H. Broadbent), "Finding that the pulpits are denied me, and the poor colliers are ready to perish for lack of knowledge, I went to them, and preached on a mount...... ". In the same passage George Withfield refers to the mountain as the Lord's pulpit and the heavens as the Lord's sounding-board. E.H. Broadbent then continues, "The next time he [George Whitfield] preached ten thousand people came together; his marvellous voicing reached them all as he spoke to them for an hour."

Of course this sort of event was not new as we have it recorded how Christ often spoke to large crowd e.g. The feeding of the five and four thousand men (besides women and children).

What gabs we with the above is how the above meetings were funded or organised? Who organised the ushers, paid for the sound systems, lighting and venue, arranged the worship team, hired the smoke machines, was responsible for security and collections? And the list goes on. Of course these questions don't require an answer since except for sound, lighting and venue, none of these things were required. In fact God's arranged all things that were necessary i.e. venue (His creation), lighting (sun or moonlight), sound (I have no idea how He did this?). Now I am not trying to introduce a new teaching of Church facilitation. Sound, Lighting, Buildings and AV can all be used to God's glory and for the spread of the Gospel; in fact He provides many with means of acquiring such things. The question I ask though is, "Have we not maybe reached a point where the proverbial cart if pulling the donkey?"

Let's get back to basic i.e. the call of God on our lives. Surely if He calls us, He will also provide and make away for what He has called us to to be successful and effective. Successful may however mean martyrdom or persecution but that's a different discussion for another time. Furthermore, doesn't the example of scripture teach that the focus of God's call on any person or situation is to bring mankind into relationship with Him? While health, wealth and success may follow, these are not what knowing God is all about and in truth do not bring lasting happiness or freedom. In fact the statistics regarding the experiences of the true Church throughout scripture and history do not support this idea (of health, wealth and success) either; well not when using their worldly definitions.

Today we need to re-evaluate what our prime objectives are when we meet together and be careful that the trappings that we add to these meetings don't in fact detract from the actual message or even worse bar people from receiving the truth.

In continuing George Withfield's report on the effects of God's word on the miners that he was preaching to , when last did we see the following? "the first discovery of their being affected was to see the white gutters made by their tears, which plentifully fell down their black cheeks as they came out of their coal-pits. Hundreds and hundreds of them were soon bought under deep conviction, which, as the event proved, happily ended in a sound and thorough conversion" (emphasis is mine). What is also well documented is that during these times, the heart and character of the actual towns were changed as people turned whole heartedly to God.

At the end of the day, they fruit declares the tree and so the question needs to be asked, "After the many elaborate and expensive outreaches and ministries that we have seen over the last decade, and continue to see, is there evidence of a true and Godly repentance that leads to changed lives that glorify a Holy God?".

"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!" (2Co 7:10-11b)

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2Co 5:17

On a final but slightly different note, the fact that all great movements of God from the past seem to eventually wane simply serves to highlight the waywardness and wickedness of our hearts. Indeed if we take out eyes off of Him for just a moment we seem to quickly forget Him and move away. How often can't it be said that after a great awakening of the Lord that "there arose another generation...  which knew not the LORD, nor yet [His] works" (Jdg 2:10)? So I suppose this leads to another questions "How do we keep our first Love?", "How do we not lose that which God gives and reveals to us?". I see the Breaking-of-bread, where we remember what God, through Christ, has done for us and we confess our continual need of Him as a practical application that God has implemented to help us stay true to Him. It is therefore no wonder that the Church of Acts appeared to do this at least once a week; considering which it is a sad but interesting observation that some much of the Church has abandoned or trivialised this important and blessed feast.

"Oh my Great and gracious God, help me to be guided and moved by Your Word alone. May I not be trapped by any man-made religious system but at the same time may I not become a law unto myself. Grant me the boldness to carry your cross as well as the strength to obediently follow your Call on my life.

May I not be obsessed by how others live and what they do but rather through reading Your Word and considering the actions of those around me determine like Joshua that in spite of all those around me that I will serve You."