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Do you know what really annoys me about God?

by Dr Barry Chant, B.A. (Hons), Dip.Ed., B.D., D.Min., Ph.D., Cert IV WP

(the following was originally published under the banner ‘Personally Speaking’, in New Day magazine)

Do you know what really annoys me about God? It’s the way He blesses all the wrong people. You would think that a reasonable God would be more selective. Having laid down rules in Scripture both for belief and behaviour, you would think He would give special advantages to those who abide by them. But what does He do? He blesses people even when they break the rules.

Take Lourdes, for example. Some two million Catholic pilgrims go there every year to pray – many of them seeking healing – and leave crutches and other medical aids behind to prove they have received it. And why do they go to Lourdes? Because in 1858, the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared there to a peasant girl named Bernadette Soubirous. So they ask Mary to help them. Now every good Protestant knows it is unscriptural to pray to Mary. But many Catholics do it anyway and apparently their prayers are answered.

My Protestant evangelical heritage rises up in angry protest. God shouldn’t do that. I mean, it might give the impression the Catholics are right after all! If He was at all concerned about sound doctrine, He wouldn’t do things that encourage them. Wouldn’t it be better if the archangel Gabriel appeared at the healing waters from time to time to warn those earnest pilgrims that they had come to the wrong place? That they ought to take their problems to a church where the Bible is preached properly? But no, God just lets them go ahead, two million of them every year. And then, to rub it in, He actually answers some of their prayers.

Why does He do this? Obviously, when people exercise faith, He has decided to respond to it, no matter who they are or where they are. Even at a shrine to Mary. It’s enough to make Luther have nightmares.

Then there are those wild charismatic gatherings where weird things happen. People foam at the mouth, make animal noises, jerk and shudder, roll around and so on. If I was God, I wouldn’t go near those places. But what does God do? Not only does He look in on them, but He actually blesses some of those people. Here am I, teaching college students how to maintain godly order, and someone comes along and claims they were healed in a place of chaos and disorder. “It must be all right,” they argue with disarming logic, “or I wouldn’t have been healed.” How can you compete with reasoning like that?

Of course, the real problem is that God has always acted this way. From the very beginning He’s chosen the wrong people. Abraham tells a cowardly lie and everyone in Pharaoh’s palace comes down with fever. Yet Abraham becomes the vehicle for God’s blessing on all of humanity! (Genesis 12:1). Poor honest Esau gets the flick and dishonest, scheming Jacob gets the blessing (Genesis 27:1ff). Stout-hearted Saul does his best to be a decent king and it is the adulterer David who winds up with the kingdom. Paul persecutes the early Christians and then becomes the greatest apostle in history!

Actually, when you think about it, it’s probably just as well God is like this. The point is that He has promised to honour faith because it’s faith that honours Him. Even the most righteous person who doesn’t believe closes the door to God’s grace. On the other hand, the feeblest sinner who reaches out in desperate faith opens the door as wide as the arms of God (Hebrews 11:6).

It has little to do with the rightness of wrongness of the context in which the blessing occurs. Of course, where sound doctrine is taught the chances of people’s faith developing well are greatly increased. And the truth must be taught whether it seems to bring ‘results’ or not. But in the ultimate, God’s favour on anyone is not only determined by the accuracy of what they believe – but also by the attitude of their heart towards Him.

The same applies to behaviour. All over the world there are thousands of faithful pastors shepherding their little flocks, preaching their weekly sermons – and reaping only a meagre harvest for their efforts. Then along comes some profligate TV evangelist, who has a fund-raising program that would make the Mafia envious, a mistress on the side and a bathroom with gold taps, and when he preaches, hundreds of people are converted!

The local ministers look on in frustrated amazement. How does he do it? Why does God do it? It’s not fair! Doesn’t God realise what’s going on? Doesn’t He care?

What happens is that every now and again, in spite of himself, the TV preacher actually does preach the gospel and when people believe it they are saved. As they must be. For the gospel is true, no matter who preaches it – it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes (Romans 1:16). The televangelist may also have genuine communication and ministry gifts from God which, once given, the Lord does not retrieve.

Eventually God will probably pull the rug out from under his feet and there will be a spectacular fall. As someone once said, ‘If we persist in sin, God will not remove the ministry from us; but He will remove us from the ministry’.

Anyway, annoying as it may be, we have to admit it’s just as well God does act the way He does, even though it’s very unfair. Because when you think about it, if God only blessed those whose doctrine and practice was 100% right...

Case dismissed.

Reprinted with permission from New Day magazine, PO Box 564, Plympton, South Australia 5038, Australia (September 1996 issue). Dr Chant was president of Tabor College and publisher of New Day magazine (now ceased publication).

Some additional comments by Graham Pockett:

A good rule-of-thumb for accessing if a blessing is from God is to see who gets the benefit and who gets the credit. Satan is not going to ‘bless’ someone when the outcome is positive and Jesus gets the credit. A person healed by the Holy Spirit is a powerful testimony for the awesome power of God – and that testimony can change the lives of many people. It would not be in Satan’s interests to do this.

The Bible does say that we should not be deceived but that doesn’t mean that we should reject everything and turn away from what He is genuinely doing. God doesn’t live by our rules, but we should try and live by His.

We should be like the Bereans and check the Word carefully to see that what we are being taught is Scriptural. If it is, we should embrace it wholeheartedly. If not, we should reject it. If the leader of a church tells his congregation that they must commit suicide so they can be nearer to God we can categorically say that this is not from God because it goes against the Word.

Dr Chant has written an important message for all Christians in all denominations. None of us has 100% perfect doctrine and we must be more tolerant towards dedicated and committed Christians who may believe something a little different from us. Who’s to say that they aren’t more correct in what they believe than we are? I don’t think that Dr Chant was suggesting that we change our doctrine to suit someone else, but I think we must be a lot more tolerant of other Christians.

Let’s take the war to the real enemy, Satan, and stop attacking fellow Christians. Satan’s plan is to divide and conquer. Unfortunately he is being highly successful...

Let’s stop that success now.

Graham Pockett
editor, Anointed Christian Links

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  • And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
    Hebrews 11:6 NIV

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    Last Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2019