Tuesday, 13 December 2011

What has God been doing for the last 2000 years?

This is a challenge that has been made by atheist, Lewis Wolpert, several times - "Tell me something God has done in the last 2000 years!"  It's a bit like hiding in the corner of a cave or burying your head in the sand and saying you can't see any evidence of the sun!

Without the sun you couldn't see anything, and without God there would be nothing to see.  The fact that we are here is evidence of God - things don't come into existence out of nothing without a cause - He sustains His creation, giving life and breath to all, in Him we live and move and have our being (see here).  Without God's creative activity the universe wouldn't have come into existence, and without His ongoing sustaining activity the universe wouldn't remain in existence.

But Professor Wolpert was looking for something slightly more dramatic.  When it came to the evidence of the miraculous life and resurrection of Christ he was looking for something more current, but this of course leads to a discussion on the purpose of miracles.  God doesn't and didn't give miracles to prove His existence - that's something God never felt was necessary.  God gave miracles to confirm new revelation.  This is particularly relevant to the time of Christ and His apostles - here was a man claiming equality with God and assuming prerogatives that are divine; following Him were men who said that Jewish ceremonial law has been fulfilled and can be discarded.  These are claims that Jews could not just blindly and blithely accept, so God gave miraculous confirmations of these claims. 

But is that all we have to say to Wolpert's challenge?  Well, if it were, I would still say it's enough, but it's not all we've got to say.  Millions of people could testify to the life-changing power of the Gospel in their lives.  I have personally heard  and read the testimonies of many former drug addicts, alcoholics, and those enslaved by other vices (e.g. see here and read here and listen here).  The message of the Gospel has the power to change people's lives immediately, completely, permanently and positively in a way that no other religion or philosophy has - this is what God is doing today.

There are also the amazing interventions of God in the Reformation, the Great Awakening, the 1859 revival and many other manifestations of grace and power.

Then there are the many examples of answered prayer. People often have a childish approach to prayer, treating it like a slot machine, prayer in, answer out. That's not how it is, and we have to remember that it is not God's intention now to lift the effects of the curse off this earth, so people still get sick, and tragedies still strike, and anyone who thinks prayer should stop those things hasn't read the Bible carefully. In addition, people need to remember that our sins separate us from God, and until our sins are forgiven through faith in Christ, we are not in relationship with God.

In prayer God provides for the needs of His people and His work, and He often does this in undeniable and amazing ways. I am just reading again the story of George Muller and how he ran orphanages without asking anyone but God for funds, and in wonderful ways God provided. Read his story - you can download it for free here. You can talk about coincidences, but when a man's life, and the lives of hundreds of orphans were sustained on coincidences, the coincidences begin to sound more miraculous than divine intervention! To Muller's accounts we could add the testimonies of many other Christians, known and unknown, who experienced the reality of God in answer to prayer. I could add my own stories of times when I prayed about issues for which there was no earthly expectation or natural explanation, and the answer came.

I really think that for anyone to say they don't know what God has done in the last 2000 years merely shows they don't want to know!