Images of God

“If you’re a child of God you don’t have to put up with anything.  You can stand on the Word, claim the promises, and change your circumstances.  You don’t have to wait any longer.  You have the authority — use it!”  Then Jesus said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” and, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Yesterday’s idols of images of golden calves have been replaced with today’s idols of images of God as people want to see Him. Jesus is being peddled daily as a problem solver who lends His name and the authority contained therein for people to wave around like a magic wand. Do you have a problem making ends meet financially? Turn on so-called Christian TV and you’ll hear someone proclaiming that God wants you to be prosperous financially. Are you tired of waiting on God and acquiring patience through tribulation?  Wait just one more minute and you’re sure to hear someone explaining how to speak to this mountain and that, eliminating any further delays. Do you not care for the process of learning obedience through suffering?  Don’t despair. The next program is sure to have someone giving instructions on how to exercise authority in Jesus’ name, thereby changing your circumstances and avoiding suffering. Whatever your problem, you can turn on so-called Christian TV and find someone holding up an idol of an image of God as you would like Him to be.

Intent on attracting the masses, these self-proclaimed prophets thunder their views without stopping to realize that their message is an exact duplicate of one delivered nearly 2000 years ago in a wilderness to a man famished by hunger:  The man — Jesus;  the speaker — Satan;  the message — ‘You don’t have to wait on God.  If you’re a child of God you can use your authority and change your circumstances.’  But praise be to God Jesus showed us the way to overcome these temptations, that of humbling ourselves and becoming nothing, not counting equality with God as a thing to be grasped, thereby refusing to exalt ourselves against His sovereignty, and entrusting ourselves to a faithful Creator, and waiting on Him.  Praise and glory and honor to Jesus.

When my son was stricken with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis I watched him grow more and more crippled over a fifteen month period. The Lord only told me to take him off onions, which I did.  After this he continued to grow crippled. The arthritis began in his knees, spread to his back, then to his eyes (JRA can cause blindness and, yes, the doctors feared he was going blind). Soon the medicine he was taking damaged his kidneys and they began excreting alarming amounts of protein in his urine. In the midst of all this, the Lord kept telling me, “Trust in Me. I love you.” That’s all I had, dear friends, “Take him off onions,” and “Trust in Me. I love you.” The disease had my son’s body, and I had, “Take him off onions. Trust in Me. I love you.” (Glory to God. The One who spoke these words to my heart was greater than the disease. Glory!)

During all of this, as the Lord was telling me to trust, another voice was telling me, “Your son is suffering.  God has given you authority over diseases. Use it.” By God’s grace I never once yielded to this temptation to exalt myself against the sovereignty of God (the power belongs to Him) and He helped me day in and day out to humble myself and become obedient.

After many months of tribulation, sufferings, and excruciating trials by fire, the Holy Spirit witnessed to my heart and I spoke, “In the name of Jesus be healed, be whole, be well.” My son was instantaneously healthy. His kidneys immediately stopped excreting protein.  (An ultrasound was done the following week. The doctor’s exact words were, “His kidneys look brand new!”) The problem in his eyes disappeared and he began regaining mobility in his knees and back. God was glorified.  Jesus was exalted. And a broken and contrite heart learned obedience through the things which it suffered. An unworthy sinner was allowed by the grace of God to follow the example of Jesus and humble himself under God’s mighty hand. What an honor; behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called His children.

Dear friends, we are free to choose:  We can follow the example of Jesus, or we can worship the idols of images of God that best suit our human inclinations. We can take up our cross and follow Jesus, or we can find teachers who will hold up an idol of an image of God that doesn’t require patience and obedience. We can serve God, or we can serve mammon.  We cannot serve both. We must love one and hate the other. We are free to choose. Jesus is coming soon.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant