DOES GOD WORK IN OUR LIVES TODAY?
Many believe that God does not work in the lives of believers in the dispensation of the mystery. I believe that He does, but we can not be certain of when He does because we live in a dispensation that is absent of signs. Does that mean that because we cannot be certain of when He has worked in our lives because there may not be a visible sign, that He does not work? Let us search the Scriptures for the answer to that question.
WORKS PREPARED FOR US TO DO
We read in Eph. 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk on them”. Let us also consider the NASB translation of this verse, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them”. I believe the NASB translation of “prepared beforehand” is a better translation because according to the Strongs Dictionary, the Greek word is made up of the prefix translated “afore” and the root which means “prepare”.
So this verse tells us that God has prepared good works for each of us to do. Surely, if these works were prepared by God for us to do, He will lead us to them. That is to say, if God has prepared something for each of us to do, I believe that He will lead us to those works. That means that God is working in our lives.
GOD WORKS IN US
We read in Phil. 2:13, “for it is God Which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. This couldn’t be more clear, i.e. God does indeed work in us so that we will not only want to do His will, but also that we will do His will. As we combine that with Eph. 2:10 which tells us that God has prepared works for each of us to day, I believe we may conclude that God works in us in order that we do the works which He has prepared for us to do.
GOD’S HEALING OF EPAPHRODITUS
We read in Phil. 2:25-27 of Epaphroditus, who was Paul’s “fellowsoldier” but had been quite ill. “For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow”. It was God who healed Epaphroditus. How do we know that? If Epaphroditus had simply recovered his health by natural means, Paul could not have said that God had had mercy on him. Let us consider this more carefully.
If Paul believed that Epaphroditus had recovered his health by natural means he could have said “Praise God, for Epaphroditus is healed”. But Paul wrote that God had mercy on him. In my opinion, that says that Paul believed that God was the Healer. If God did indeed heal Epaphroditus, and I believe He did, that is God working in our daily lives.
“TRUST” IN THE PRISON EPISTLES
We read in I Tim. 5:5, “Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day”.
What does the widow trust in God for? I believe that because we are told she is “desolate”, that leads us to believe that she trusts in God to supply her needs. If she trusts God to supply her needs, she trusts God to work in her life and even perhaps in the lives of others that He might supply her needs. To say that God does not work in our lives, says that trust in Him is misplaced. I believe our trust in God is never misplaced.
WEAPONS AGAINST PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS
We read in Eph. 3:10 that the manifold wisdom of God was made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places. The note in the Companion Bible on the word “manifold” reads, “implies infinitely diversified“. But if we take that “manifold wisdom” to refer only to that which was made known by the revelation of the mystery, as wonderful as that revelation is, it does not in itself, as far as I can tell, show God’s “infinitely diversified” wisdom”. The revelation of the mystery shows that God had foreknown that Israel would reject Her risen Messiah and that She would be put aside. And it also shows that God had planned for that event in choosing for Himself the church which would be “the fulness of Him that filleth all in all”. I certainly do not mean to minimize that great plan, but I don’t see that it shows God’s “infinitely diversified” wisdom”.
On the other hand, we read in Eph. 6::11-13, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”.
If we include the victories that are won by each individual member of the church with the help of God-given armor, it does indeed show a great deal more of that diversification. That is to say, there have been myriad of believers in the dispensation of the mystery, all who have had their own individual battles, each answered in an “infinitely diversified” manner by using the armour given them by God. Consider that with the fact that each of those believers have had in their life time many, many battles with the spiritual wickedness in heavenly places and the diversity of God’s wisdom in respect to the armour given to believers does indeed seem to be infinite.
So we have believers using weapons in protection and at the same time witnessing to principalities and powers in heavenly places. But what is important in this particular study is the fact that these weapons are God-given. Does God give these weapons to believers and just leave them with us to fend for ourselves? What good are weapons, even God-given weapons, if He Who gives them does not help us know how and when to use them? I believe that God does help us to know how and when to use them, i.e. He does work in our daily lives as we witness to principalities and powers in heavenly places of His “manifold wisdom”.
I believe the paragraphs above tell us that God does indeed work in our daily lives. But it is also clear that that working in our lives is not at all like the acts of God before the dispensation of the mystery. Let us consider the reason for that difference.
We read in I Cor. 1:22, “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom”. It is clear that throughout the Old Testament God gave Israel many signs that He is God. Certainly Israel’s escape from Egypt, for example, was a sign, not only to Israel, but to all the surrounding nations that God is Almighty.
And in the New Testament we read in Matthew 11:2-5, “Now when John had heard in prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him ‘Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?’ Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached unto them.” Here too it is clear that Christ reminded John’s disciples of the miracles because those miracles were signs that proved that Christ was Who He said He was. When Israel was set aside at Acts 28 the signs which were an integral part of how God worked with Israel was set aside with Her.
Because the signs were set aside, many believe that God no longer works in our lives today. But we have considered several passages that tell us that God does indeed work in our lives today. But we do not know for a certainty what God does in our lives, because the signs are not evident. But just because the signs are not seen does not prove that God is not working.
GOD’S RELATIONSHIP WITH LO-AMMI ISRAEL
The book of Esther depicts the story of how Queen Esther saved her people, Israel from Haman. The story takes place while Israel is lo-ammi, “not My People”. We read in Deut. 31:16-17, “And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them, Then My anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and shall hide My face from them….”.
And when Israel became lo-ammi God did indeed hide His face from them. And much has been written about the fact that God’s name, i.e. “Jehovah” is not seen in the book of Esther. But Appendix 60 in the Companion Bible lists four times in which “Jehovah” appears hidden in the book of Esther in acrostics. Dr. Bullinger writes of God’s dealings with Israel during this time and it fits the present lo-ammi period so well I will quote a bit from that Appendix. “But though He was hidden from them, He was working for them. Though the book reveals Him as overruling all, His Name is hidden. It is there for His People to see, not for His enemies to see or hear.”
The same could be said about the church today. His ways may be hidden, but God still overrides all. If He protected Israel by working through individuals while they were not His People, I see no reason to conclude that just because His ways are hidden, He is not working in the lives of individuals today.
This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org