THE GOD OF WONDERS
"Thou art the God that doest wonders." Psalm 77, verse 14.
WHILE I am not responsible for the choice of the Motto, I think it is one that will reflect the mood and outlook of many members of the Church. It is not one that a junior in the Church would be likely to suggest; for its deep heartthrob could only be known out of considerable experience. It is the thought fashioned out of life itself, that not a few are facing in this present hour. Heavy burdens lie upon many hearts. The saints of God understand that the pilgrim way is one of discipline and difficulty. They fully recognise that God may for our highest good lay His chastening hand upon them. The patience, fortitude and courage which I have observed through even the past year command my admiration.
What does perplex is that which perplexed the psalmist. He was in grievous trouble and, like a well-instructed saint, he took his trouble to God. He tells us that he cried unto God with his voice, he sought the Lord, he complained--but there seemed to be no answer. His spirit sank into gloom. His mind was wrapped up as in a mantle of dark thoughts; he struggled to sustain himself by the remembrance of past mercies but nothing happened. There was the urgent need, the right and proper answer and relief was obvious. The prayer went up with increasing intensity but all was met with silence! So deep, dark and tragic was the condition of his soul that he exclaimed, "Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will He be favourable no more ? Is His mercy clean gone for ever? Doth His promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath He in anger shut up His tender mercies?
The wrestling with God concerning vital issues of the soul is a deep unfathomable mystery to the saint. There are people in this congregation who have wrestled with God for years; they are wrestling now, and the situation remains insoluble, intractable, defiant and threatening. Out of deep experience they understand the startling questions, verging almost upon unbelief, the psalmist put to himself. Actually it was not unbelief, for unbelief brings one to a religious and spiritual cul-de-sac. This was the painful, sad, bewildered, broken heart of the psalmist as his feelings overwhelmed him. But God understands such conditions and He lifted the gloom sufficiently for the psalmist to realise that all his bewilderment was an evidence of his spiritual infirmity, his weakness. It meant that in some way he was crying out to God wrestling with Him, and exhausting himself when, like Jacob, he should have wrestled with God and in his wrestling, taken on the omnipotence of the One with Whom he wrestled. There is a wrestling with God which saps our energies, there is a wrestling which renews our strength. One is when the pressure of the trouble is greater upon us than our confidence in God. The other is when we are so sure of God, that we obtain the power of God to sustain the issue, and to discover something stronger and sweeter in God than ever before.
Hence the mood of the psalmist changed at verse 10. The problem was still there, but he refreshed himself in the remembrance of past mercies, in meditation upon the work of God and in testimony to the faithfulness of God through the years. We do not read that his troubles as such were dealt with, that his problems were dissolved, that he lived happily ever after, but we do read that the psalmist cried out to God: "Thou art the God that doest wonders." And if, after our consideration of the motto this evening, we can go back to the heart-breaking problems of our lives, sharing the confidence of the psalmist and letting this motto become a great experimental reality, then it will have been the word for us all. If we keep within the scope of the psalm, there are three great facts that confirm this truth that He is the God of Wonders.
In the previous verse the psalmist declares: "Thy way, 0 God, is in the sanctuary." For us today there is no earthly sanctuary. We treat with respect places set aside for worship. We respect them, not because they have been consecrated, but because they are being used by common men and women as places where they worship the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . The Great Head of the Church once spoke of the holy temple in Jerusalem and said: "Ye have made it a den of thieves." If this Chapel is holy ground it is not because " dedicated workmen " built it, or because somebody " consecrated " it (which consecration is impossible by any human being) but because people, ordinary people, common saints, are using the building wherein to worship God, to seek Him and to praise Him. Hence for us, with the New Testament in our hands, there is no earthly sanctuary but there is a heavenly one, and the first marvellous wonder tonight wherein we may rejoice is that:-
1) GOD, BY A WONDERFUL ACT, HAS RECEIVED HIS BELOVED SON IN THAT SANCTUARY.
This is indeed a miracle of God upon which every believer should frequently meditate. It will help us in all our worries and problems. This MAN, this Glorious Man, took upon Himself as laid by God, the biggest problem and burden of all: the sin of the human race. He cried in the bearing of it: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? " Yet through that terrible, shocking, catastrophic experience, God has brought Him to the Throne. That is where the bewildered, burdened saint, overwhelmed in gloom by reason of unanswered prayer, will also come! Be the troubles what they may, this is the destiny of the child of God, and as the saint meditates upon that fact he will at once be greatly helped. It is no small thing that Jesus, bearing our humanity has reached heaven, brought it into living union with the Father, and enthroned the Form of Man in the presence of God. That fact inspires hope, confidence and assurance. In our present body we may be suffering limitation, handicap, disease and, indeed, facing death, but we are, facing death in the confidence of immortality; for we are to be like Him.
The happenings of today and tomorrow are ever to be seen in the light of the fact that the pattern of glory is already established, immortalised and enthroned in heaven, an accomplishment in itself, a transcendent miracle by the God of Wonders. There is more even than that because He is there in heaven as our Great High Priest, to minister the life of God to the weakest saint that calls upon Him. The saint has not the slightest need of some benediction by an episcopal or papal hand. This is my confidence upon which I rest all, that the Great High Priest for every believer is exclusively in heaven. His Sovereign rights as Priest are delegated to none, He is in Himself the Spring of the Omnipotent life of God the Father and His Priesthood in eternal life matches the darkest hour and the deepest need, of every child of God with the maximum inspiration of the transcendent life of God. Spring of life, fount of Divine energy, Channel of grace supreme for every need, He is the outstanding Wonder of God in the universe the Priest of eternal life for evermore. Think upon Him every day, think upon Him in every moment of gloom and despair, and draw afresh out of the depths of His being the pure and holy omnipotent life of God for your every need! But wonderful as is the truth concerning our Blessed Lord even He does not in Himself exhaust the Wonders of God. the psalmist declares: "Thou hast declared Thy strength among the peoples." He goes on to say "Thou hast with thine arm, redeemed Thy people." Therefore, another marvel of God is that:
2)GOD BY A WONDERFUL ACT HAS ENSHRINED HIMSELF WITHIN HIS REDEEMED
. Of course, any child of God can well appreciate that there could not be possibly any honour, within the power of the Father, that would not be conferred upon the God Man of Absolute Obedience. I must tell you, however, that it is to me no less a wonderful truth, that as the fruit of the blood of Christ in my salvation, it is positively true that the Holy Spirit has taken up His abode within my mortal, being. None knows better than I what a poor apologetic Christian I am, but what I should have been but for the Indwelling Spirit I cannot dare to imagine. He is indeed the God of wonders as by the miracle of the Throne of His Beloved Son, the Holy Spirit Himself comes to dwell if possible to rule, within the heart of every born again child of God.
What a wonder! He is there in heaven, that the Spirit may be in every believer like a well of water satisfying him in every time of need, so that, as circumstances change, His ministry will adapt Himself to our need. He is there to flood our beings with the life of God so that every man and woman we touch is the better and the happier for the contact. He is there to make us like God and already to form Christ within us. He is there to help us to pray for this is our infirmity that we do not know how to pray as we ought. He is there to lead us into all truth and to show us things to come. He is within to accomplish in the weakest saint the omnipotent plan and purpose of God. What a God of Wonders He is!
God intends that every believer shall prove all this blessing of the Holy Spirit. He designs that our hearts shall be delivered from all gloom, despair, moods, depression, and shall manifest joy, life and love to everybody we touch. He wants every company of the Lord's people to be a happy people, thrilled with all the love of the Spirit, loving one another, comforting one another, helping, encouraging, inspiring and blessing one another. As each and every believer pleads with the Lord for this vitalising of the Holy Spirit so the love of God will be shed abroad in all our hearts. And as all the weaknesses, handicaps and disabilities of the old nature are overcome and the life of God flows through us as a river, we shall know in some little degree how wonderful is God to give to us poor mortals the marvellous gift of the Holy Spirit. Of all the other wonders of God, I choose what I think is in the text and which possibly we need to know afresh more in this hour in which we live.
3) GOD BY A WONDERFUL ACT CAN TRANSFORM THE HUMAN RACE
Every believer knows how true is that fact. If the wonders we have considered are experimentally true in common redeemed men and women such as we are, then we know assuredly the truth whereof we speak. I have listened to what people have to say about the increasing crime statistics, and how this terrible feature of our national life is to be assuaged. The psychiatrists are busy, plans for better prisons are on foot, opinion is divided as to whether corporal punishment will solve the problem. Of course an unsaved man, be he an ecclesiastic, politician or social worker cannot possibly suggest the power of God. I am not suggesting that this explains the silence of the bishops on this matter. Paul when he came to the city of Ephesus whose population was dead in sin, sunk in iniquity and barbaric idolatry, did not look round for a psychiatrist but stepped out with the gospel. On the testimony of Demetrius turned the city upside down, or it might have been more accurate "downside up."
Let it not be forgotten that amidst all the things that man in his sin is seeking to do for the good of the race, this is God's answer to the misery of our sin: the blood of Christ whereby a man may be made a new creation of the Holy Spirit. At the moment we are undoubtedly beset with obstacles and it may be unbelief within ourselves, but we may be sure that our God is still " The God of Wonders." What He has done for us, He waits to do for all who will turn to Him and live. You cannot think how earnestly I plead that in the immediate months before us every member of this Church shall know a filling with the Holy Spirit, that will lead us out in testimony and to the victory of the Lamb over the powers of darkness as they seek to hold men and women in their grip. Let us pray that no unsaved person may be able to step on to the premises of this church and its Missions without being brought down before God in repentance, and so gloriously saved. God has been doing this all through the years, but now, as we turn to Him afresh, we long that He may show Himself in this neighbourhood, in this Chapel and in our Sunday Schools as the God of Wonders! What a joy it would be to see the God in Whom we trust beginning in our midst to make bare His arm and to bring repentant sinners to the joy of salvation. For this, let us continue to pray and that with ever increasing faith
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