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The Hands of God

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Heb 13:8)

. . . . and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matt 28:20)

These are beautiful and comforting verses but in some ways, they are also disturbing because they raise some troubling questions. When Jesus was here, living among men in flesh and blood he was always performing miraculous deeds, always healing the sick, casting out devils and even bringing the dead back to life. The verse above states that Jesus is the same today as he was yesterday, and we have the assurance that as God never changes, neither does his son. So why is it that we do not see him performing the same great miracles today? Why is it that he is with us, even unto the end of the world, but still, we do not see him working in the same way as he did in the past? Is he still just as capable and willing to do his mighty works as he did when he walked physically among men? If we believe what we read in the Bible, then we have to believe that the answer is yes, so why is it that we see this great lack of power everywhere among Christians? Why have the mighty works of Christ disappeared for so many hundreds of years if he is still with us, even to the end of the world?

Many times we have heard the phrase, “if only Jesus were still here . . .” We acknowledge that Jesus was always willing to help, always capable, always present with a miracle when one was needed. But where are the miracles today? If only Jesus were still here! But how do we deal with the fact that Jesus promised to be with his people till the end of the world? How do we deal with the fact that he promised that he would never leave us nor forsake us? Are these just empty statements, figurative, but not intended to be taken literally? Many have concluded that this is the case and that Jesus’ mighty supernatural works ended when he ceased to live among us in flesh and blood.

However, there is an important fact which may explain the seeming change in Christ’s way of operating. When we take a careful look at the way God has operated throughout human history an interesting fact becomes evident. It is a striking reality which may not be recognized at first, but it is true and it is the fact that God does not work outside of an agent. It was very rarely, if ever, that God himself personally did any of the great miracles which were performed in the Bible without the involvement of an agent, whether an angel or a human. Even in some of the greatest miracles recorded in the Bible when God was delivering Israel from Egypt and taking them into Canaan, there was always a human agent involved.

And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved. (Hos 12:13)

And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. (Exod 7:1)

But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. (Exod 14:16)

First there was Moses, then there was Joshua, and even on a higher level, there was the angel that was sent to guide and direct them, a heavenly representative of God.

Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. (Exod 23:20)

Whenever God wanted to accomplish something in the world, even if it was some extraordinary miracle he would choose somebody to work through. In other words, God always had human hands (or sometimes angelic hands) through which he did his work. Clearly, it is contrary to his policy to work himself, independently of a human being. The point is, if there is no human agent, then somehow, God is not able to work in the way that he wants to work.

And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. (Ezek 22:30)

God works through a body

It seems clear that for some reason God needs a human body through which he can work. I am not suggesting that there are limitations to God’s power, obviously God has the power to work in any way that he chooses, but there is a reason why he does not operate like that. God does not operate simply on the basis that he is almighty and possesses power to do anything that he wants to. There is a contest taking place in the universe involving God and Satan and in this contest, God has clearly limited himself in the way that he operates. In other words, God has chosen to operate on the basis of rules that limit his way of working. These rules are based on the principle of justice and fairplay; God does not use his power to take advantage in the conflict because it is important that he defeat Satan in such a way that it can be seen by all that he is just and fair. It is not simply a matter of blowing the opposition away by force of arms. If it were as simple as that, Satan would have been destroyed and the conflict would have ended as soon as it started, six thousand years ago. It is clear that in the context of his work here on earth, one of the rules is that in working on behalf of man, God must use men as his agents.

This rule is based on the principle that it is humanity that fell, it is humanity that rebelled against God and in the process of recovery from the problem, man himself must be involved in the fight to escape the bondage to Satan. God cannot work to deliver man, unless man himself is involved in that work. If man is not involved, then it would mean that God is interfering in man’s free choice to serve Satan, and that he is not respecting the principle of free-will and free choice. So one consequence of this principle is the fact that in all that he is doing on behalf of men, God needs a human agent through which he may work.

We can see this clearly demonstrated in the fact that when God sent his Son to save the human race, the first thing he had to do was to make him into a human being, one of us, fully a member of the fallen race. All that Jesus did on our behalf, he did as one of us, as a member of our family. He made his choices, exercised his will, fought his battles as a man! This is why he was qualified to represent us, to act on our behalf. He was the man, the human agent through which God could work in accomplishing his greatest work on behalf of the human race.

Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: (Heb 10:5)

This body that was prepared was a human body. From the body of Mary, God formed a human embryo in which he placed the spirit of His Son. This is how the Son of God became a legitimate, literal member of the human race. It was not an act of pretense, God’s Son did indeed become one of us forever, and so, he was fully qualified to stand on our behalf, to represent us in all situations, to fight the great battles on our behalf. But the important point I wish to highlight here is that God needed a human agent, he needed a man that he could depend on to accomplish his work in the world. Because there was no human who was able to do what was required, God himself provided a solution by incarnating his only begotten Son, into the human race.

The question is, has this principle changed? Has the coming of Jesus changed this principle that God works through human agents, or is it still true that God needs a human body through which he may work?

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1Cor 12:27)

Men are God’s agency

The most important task to be accomplished on this earth is the saving of people and concerning this work, the apostle Paul says:

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom 10:14)

These are rhetorical questions, but the answers are self-evident. People will not hear the good news, they will not believe in Jesus Christ unless there is a preacher. It is necessary that there be somebody to carry the gospel, or else people will perish without any chance of obtaining salvation. The question may be asked, but what of angels, what of the direct work of the spirit of God? Won’t God work through angels and his spirit directly in saving people? The answer is, this is not God’s appointed way of saving men. Angels have not been given the task of preaching the gospel, this is the job of Christians and the holy spirit is best able to work through committed human agents. This fact may not be evident to us at first, but if we think about the way God has worked throughout history we will see this very clearly. Whenever there was need for somebody to hear the truth, God always sent a human messenger. Even if there were angels involved, the work of the angel was to direct the person to the human messenger as was the case when the spirit sent Phillip to teach the Ethiopian Eunuch.

In the saving of men, God needs and uses human agents. But this is not only true of salvation from sin, it is also true when it comes to saving people from suffering and disease. While God possesses all power and is himself able to heal all sicknesses without the intervention of any human agent, this is not how he works. Again, it is clear that it is through human agents that he always accomplished his great miracles by which he brought relief from suffering, and even to bring back people from the dead.

And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. (Acts 9:37-38)

Angels’ ministry

Before proceeding any further we should comment briefly on the ministry of angels. Obviously they are also involved in ministering to humans. In Hebrews 1:14 the Bible tells us that they are “ministering spirit” sent forth to minister to God’s people.

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Heb 1:14)

All over the Bible we can see them actively involved in working with human beings, but what is also evident is that while angels are working to physically protect people, they themselves have not been given the task of preaching to men and otherwise to be directly involved in the work of saving humans.

For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Ps 91:11-12)

And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. (Acts 12:7)

In matters of salvation man must be the agent

God sent an angel to Cornelius in Acts chapter 10 who informed him that his prayers had been heard by God and heaven. He was about to be blessed by hearing the gospel and receiving salvation. The angel knew everything that Cornelius needed to know, but instead of telling him the good news, the angel instead directed him to find the apostle Simon Peter:

And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. (Acts 10:5-6)

The same principle can be seen in the experience of the apostle Paul. Jesus himself met him on the road to Damascus and interrupted his mad crusade against Christians, but when Saul asked, “Lord, what will you have me to do,” Jesus did not preach to him, instead he sent him to wait on a human messenger, a Christian named Ananias who baptized him and instructed him what he should do. (Acts 9:6-18)

Why human agents?

The question is, is it simply a matter that God chooses to use human beings as a personal preference, or is there some reason which makes it necessary for God to work in this way? I mean, it is evident that there are millions of people who have never heard the gospel and myriads of them will perish in darkness because nobody ever shared the good news with them. If God is able to reach them without human intervention, and yet he does not, then of course we would have to question how much God really cares for these people, his love would be called into question. So it is evident that there is some principle by which God operates, some fundamental reason which makes it necessary that in saving men, God must work through men. It is the same reason why only a man could save the human race and thus, the son of God had to become a man in order to save us.

What is this principle? It is the principle of corporate identity, or to put it another way, the principle of family connections. When Adam disobeyed God and took of the forbidden fruit, it was not just Adam and Eve who fell into sin and came under the dominion of Satan, it was the entire human race, the entire family of Adam, all who were born from his lineage. This is the principle of corporate identity. Even though each human being is an individual with his own identity and personality, yet in another sense the human race is a single entity, we are all inheritors of the same life of Adam and so the Scriptures tell us that “in Adam, all die (1 Cor 15:22).” This is the same principle that made it possible for one man, Jesus Christ to provide salvation for the entire human race in himself. He became a man for this purpose and as a man he defeated sin and Satan and provided a way for all humans to escape Adam’s condemnation. He was able to do this because he was a man, he was a member of our family.

This is why in the work of saving men, man must be the agent through which God works. It is true that there is the persuasive power of a changed life. It is very impressive when people see a person, a human being like themselves who has been entirely transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. This is one of the greatest testimonies to the truth of the gospel and the only being in the universe who is able to provide this kind of testimony is a redeemed human being. This is one reason why men are chosen to witness to other men.

But even more important is the issue of the authority which Christians possess in Jesus Christ. Everything revolves around the right of an individual to interfere with another person’s property. The entire world came under Satan’s dominion when Adam submitted to him. All men became his legal subjects and even the God of heaven respects this reality and operates with that fact in mind. The only person who could deliver humanity from Satan’s control was a human being, somebody who could reverse the damage done by Adam. As we have seen, this is exactly what Jesus did. However, this deliverance exists only in Jesus Christ. The only persons who benefit from this deliverance are those who become a part of the new human family, who are a part of the corporate identity of Christ.

This is why Christians are uniquely qualified to preach the gospel and to be the agents for delivering human beings from Satan’s dominion. We are members of both the family of Adam and the family of Christ, the last Adam. Though we have been delivered from Adam’s condemnation, yet we are still genetically identified with Adam and so, we have the right and authority to deliver other members of Adam’s family (our family) who are still under Satan’s bondage. We have the legal right, the authority to do so because we are a part of Adam’s existence and in a sense, we are simply making decisions on behalf of our own identity (our existence as Adam). So we may act on behalf of other humans in delivering them from sin, disease, devil-possession and even death (the elements of Satan’s dominion). This is why God works through men to save men, and only through men. It is a question of legal authority and this is why if Christians will not work to save their fellow men, millions will perish who might otherwise have been saved, because angels are not qualified to preach the gospel.

We are the hands of God, the only agents which he is able to use in accomplishing his great work on behalf of humanity. The work of God actually languishes because God’s hands are so limited and strangely, so weak! When Jesus was here on earth, the Scripture says of him, “a body hast thou prepared me.” Now that he is gone, the Scripture says,

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1Cor 12:27)

The reality is, Christ still has a body in this world! When we say, “if only Christ were here, things would be different,” we are really denying the truth! The Bible teaches that Jesus is still here in the person of those who possess his life, we constitute the body of Christ, the human body in which he still works to accomplish his work in the world! The real problem is that this body of Christ is so malnourished, by false teachings, by feeding on spiritual garbage, so ignorant of its true capabilities, so disconnected from its head that effectively, Christ has no hands in the world. The apostle Paul acknowledged this reality and explained that God has given gifts to the Church for the very purpose of curing the body of Christ of this imbalance.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Eph 4:11-15)

What we have here is the picture of a man with a big head and a very small body. God’s purpose is that the body should grow up so that it is proportionate to the head and to this end, he has given spiritual gifts to the church.

I truly believe that we are now living in the last moments of time and I believe that the people of God, those who constitute the true body of Christ are beginning to experience this process of growing up to the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The process is not done, there is still a lot of growing up to take place, but it is evident that with the explosion of technology and the availability of information, there is far greater opportunity for the exchange of ideas, and the deep truths about God and his purposes which have been long hidden or confused by denominational bias and unsanctified ministers, are finally emerging in their true beauty and power! Something is happening in the world and among true Christians and the effects are being seen and felt everywhere. In every corner of the planet Christians are beginning to understand the truth about God’s identity, God’s character, the nature of the conflict between good and evil and the part that we have to play in this great controversy.

All the different elements of God’s great plan are coming together and now at last, there is real hope that the work will be finished. May we all understand and cooperate that God may find in us, the hands that he needs to accomplish his work.

(Source: Restoration Ministry)

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