The God who Acts

In the course of human history there have been many different gods accepted by various cultures. Many of these names are only historical curiosities. What happened to Marduk? What happened to Zeus? And many others? One might say that the gods disappeared because they did not do anything. They did not respond to the pleas of their worshipers. Gods also die. Nietzsche has the phrase that “gods too decompose.”

It may seem to some that people turn to atheism because they have become educated. Of course there are many academics who are atheists and have nothing to do with gods because it is contrary to scientism. But more basic the reason is that gods have failed or are dead.

There are many stories of people who pleaded with gods for healing but never received it. If your god is only a statue or an icon that does not hear, nor speak, nor move or have power, then why continue to relate to something less powerful than yourself? Has your god ever done anything to anybody?

Here is a story of a man in India. “For almost six months, Nartan Verma was bedridden. He went to several doctors and was treated in multiple hospitals, but his condition only worsened. Nartan's illness made it difficult for him to eat, and he was losing weight rapidly.

When medical doctors failed to cure him, Nartan sought help from witch doctors. They advised him to make sacrifices to multiple gods, which he was faithful to do. In the end, it proved to be of no help. He was still sick, still unable to eat, and by now was rail thin.

Four of Nartan's friends took matters into their own hands. They laid their friend out on a cot, each of them grabbed a corner and they carried Nartan to Hirla's prayer hut. Hirla prayed for Nartan for 10 days before the young man was finally able to stand up on his own. He rapidly regained strength, and today his health is completely restored.

He moved out of Hirla's prayer hut, back to his own village and is now building a house where he hopes to bring home a bride and raise a family. But for now, his number one goal is to grow closer to Jesus Christ.” (

There is an interesting comment in the Bible with reference to a man named, Elijah. In Elijah’s time there was a popular religion related to Baal worship. It seems to have been introduced into Israel by Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab. Baal was the Sun God who gave warmth to the crops as well as killing them in heat. Baal was also worshiped by the sacrifice of the first born son of the king Manasseh.(2 Kings 21:6) It has been observed that many people will sacrifice all that they have to the gods, but not themselves.

Elijah as a prophet of Yahweh called the prophets of Baal to a test. 1Ki 18:24 says, “And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God." And all the people answered, "It is well spoken."

In other words, the God who answers, or who acts, or who responds is the God who is real. In the story about Elijah the 450 prophets of Baal cried out to Baal to respond

“They chose their bull, then they got it ready and prayed to Baal all morning, asking him to start the fire. They danced around the altar and shouted, "Answer us, Baal!" But there was no answer.
At noon, Elijah began making fun of them. "Pray louder!" he said. "Baal must be a god. Maybe he's day-dreaming or using the toilet or traveling somewhere. Or maybe he's asleep, and you have to wake him up." The prophets kept shouting louder and louder, and they cut themselves with swords and knives until they were bleeding. This was the way they worshiped, and they kept it up all afternoon. But there was no answer of any kind.” (1 Kings 18:26-29)

The story continues, “When it was time for the evening sacrifice, Elijah prayed: Our LORD, you are the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. Now, prove that you are the God of this nation, and that I, your servant, have done this at your command. Please answer me, so these people will know that you are the LORD God, and that you will turn their hearts back to you. The LORD immediately sent fire, and it burned up the sacrifice, the wood, and the stones. It scorched the ground everywhere around the altar and dried up every drop of water in the ditch. When the crowd saw what had happened, they all bowed down and shouted, "The LORD is God! The LORD is God!" (I Kings 18:36-39)

The Bible story is filled with declarations and actions that speak of a Being who is Real. This is seen in a variety of ways.

1. Why should there be anything at all? If God is eternal and without sin or evil why would he create a world in which these things are possible? The act of Creation is the result of not merely power, but of love. Love is willing to take a risk on having children who might not turn out in response to our love. Love creates.

This is especially important since in the modern era the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe is accepted. In past generations people thought that the universe was eternal and needed no explanation. If the Big bang theory is accepted one can asked the question, Why? What brought about the great explosion from nothing? Remember that nothing is really nothing. There were no laws of physics or laws of chemistry or any other laws. Nothing is nothing, there is no pre-creation before Creation.

In the beginning of the Bible there is the answer that God created the world. The God described is Yahweh. This is affirmed through the Old Testament and we are told in the New Testament more about the nature of that Being. “Christ is exactly like God, who cannot be seen. He is the first-born Son, superior to all creation. Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities. All things were created by God's Son, and everything was made for him. God's Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together. (Col. 1: 15-17)

The reason there is a universe is because God loves. That is the remarkable truth that must be understood. Because God loves he created us. We had children because we wanted to love them and we still love them many decades later. God created us to have a relationship with us and bestow his love on us, and in our case, the gift of everlasting life.

2. The act of rescuing Israel from slavery.

Moses was commissioned by Yahweh to be the leader for the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian slavery. Exodus says “I have come down to rescue them from the Egyptians. I will bring my people out of Egypt into a country where there is good land, rich with milk and honey.” (Exod.3:8) In dire times a few people may escape to safety and a better life, but this is a nation enslaved in Egypt and in miserable conditions. They were rescued as a nation and delivered to a land promised to Abraham’s descendants. Several passages affirm this: “but the LORD appeared to Abram and promised, "I will give this land to your family forever." “After Abram and Lot had gone their separate ways, the LORD said to Abram: Look around to the north, south, east, and west. I will give you and your family all the land you can see. It will be theirs forever! (Genesis 12:7, 14-150)

Israel was special because Yahweh determined to bless the world through these people. The prophet Isaiah proclaims the message of Yahweh, “ The LORD says to his people, "When the time comes to save you, I will show you favor and answer your cries for help. I will guard and protect you and through you make a covenant with all peoples. I will let you settle once again in your land that is now laid waste.” (Isa.49:8) (emphasis mine)

The covenant with all peoples became a reality in the life of Jesus in the last supper before his crucifixion.

3. Miracles.

Miracles are not unusual events without some explanation. Miracles are a direct act of Yahweh that supercedes the normal natural events. The direct act or power is important. Sometimes people say that a birth of a child is a miracle. It is awesome, but it is not a direct act of God. Babies are born every day as a natural event of conception.

The rescue of Israel from slavery in Egypt is beyond natural experience. Moses and Aaron were told to declare what God was going to do and many of these events were beyond the normal experience of human creativity. There were flies and frogs in Egypt before Moses time but nothing like what their command brought. The last plague was on the first born son of the people from the King down to the common people.

Events along the way included walking on dry land through the waters of the Sea, manna given daily for forty years, walking around Jericho blowing their horns, and shouting but not fighting, crossing the Jordan on dry land, and others.

In the New Testament we have many miracles by Jesus in which lepers were healed, the lame were restored to walking ability, the blind were given their sight back, the sick were healed to good health instantly, the dead were raised to life again. These are acts of God who loves.

4. Forgiveness and restoration to the land of Israel from captivity

The people of Israel continued to sin against God and eventually his judgement fell on them. The northern Kingdom fell in 722 and the southern Kingdom fell in 586, They were carried to Assyria in 722 and to Babylon in 586. This scattered Jews to various places, but the promise was that they would return. This occurred in 539 when Cyrus became ruler of Persia. The Babylonian policy was to export people away from their country and the practice of the Persian was to return them to their country. The Jews came back humbled by their experience and became very strict in their worship of Yahweh.

5. The fulfillment of prophecy

Prophecy involves the foretelling of events before they happen. Abraham was told that his descendants would go to Egypt and after 400 years would be delivered and return to the land that Yahweh promised to the descendants of Abraham.

“Then the LORD said: Abram, you will live to an old age and die in peace. But I solemnly promise that your descendants will live as foreigners in a land that doesn't belong to them. They will be forced into slavery and abused for four hundred years. But I will terribly punish the nation that enslaves them, and they will leave with many possessions. Four generations later, your descendants will return here and take this land, because only then will the people who live here be so sinful that they deserve to be punished.” (Gen. 15:13-16)

All this happened. Prophecy is vitally related to the birth of the Messiah. Many passages in the OT speak of the coming of the Messiah as a descendant of David and whose kingdom would last forever. This is part of the story of the God who acts.

6. The acts of Jesus healing the impossible: leprosy, blindness, lameness, raising the dead made people wondered who Jesus really was. John the Baptist sent his people ask Jesus if he was the Messiah. “So John sent some of his followers to ask Jesus, "Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?" Jesus answered, "Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy are being healed, and the deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. God will bless everyone who doesn't reject me because of what I do." (Matthew 11:2-6)

The presence of Jesus was not only the fulfillment of ancient prophecies but we have the story of God becoming man to reveal Himself to mankind, to show that God wants a relationship with us, and God acts in human history. There are about 37 miracles described in the Gospels in which Jesus displayed the power of God. Remember that Jesus is the Son of God who came to reveal the love of God for his creation.

7. The acts of the Apostles

Jesus left the early disciples with the command to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God to people beginning in Jerusalem as the center and move out into the rest of the world. The disciples were empowered to do great miracles like Jesus. The first miracle involving the disciples is recorded in Acts 3,

“The time of prayer was about three o'clock in the afternoon, and Peter and John were going into the temple. A man who had been born lame was being carried to the temple door. Each day he was placed beside this door, known as the Beautiful Gate. He sat there and begged from the people who were going in. The man saw Peter and John entering the temple, and he asked them for money. But they looked straight at him and said, "Look up at us!" The man stared at them and thought he was going to get something. But Peter said, "I don't have any silver or gold! But I will give you what I do have. In the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth, get up and start walking." Peter then took him by the right hand and helped him up. At once the man's feet and ankles became strong, and he jumped up and started walking. He went with Peter and John into the temple, walking and jumping and praising God. Everyone saw him walking around and praising God. They knew that he was the beggar who had been lying beside the Beautiful Gate, and they were completely surprised.” (Acts 3:1-10) Five miracles, including one raising from the dead was done by Peter. Seven miracles were done by Paul.

What about modern times? Does God still do marvelous things? The answer must be that God is the same today as in years past. He still loves his creation and wants the best for it. The best that we can have is a relationship of love with Him.

8. What is God doing lately?

One of the most remarkable events relates to Islam. Islam has built a hedge around its people and missionaries and churches are prohibited in Saudi Arabia and other countries like Iran do not allow people to convert from Islam. All of this restricts humans from entering the country as missionaries, but these restrictions do not apply to Jesus.

There are growing numbers of people in Muslim countries that are having dreams and visions of Jesus. During the night a person appears in their room, a person of light who illumines the room and when He leaves the darkness returns. People encounter Jesus who gives the person a sense of peace that they have never had before. He commands them to follow Him. They may be given instructions to go to a follower of Jesus who can give them a Bible or answer questions about the meaning of the dreams.

The visitations by Jesus are occurring throughout the middle east and Africa. One such story comes from Miraculous Movements....

Two men were going to a distant village to tell them about God’s love expressed in Jesus. They had to pass a village they knew was hostile to the story of Jesus. When they came to this village on their motorcycle, it suddenly stopped and they could not start it. They walked into the village wondering if there was any possibility of help for the cycle. When they came into the village there was a funeral going on. They felt the leading of God to go and ask if they could pray for the person who had died. The man prayed for an hour and continued to pray. Time was passing and people were becoming impatient. The man praying touched the hand of the dead woman and felt that it was becoming warm. A few moments later he noticed that her eyes were open. Soon she got up. The shock and thrill of all this went through the crowd. The dead woman was the wife of the head of the village. His comments were that the two men could come back and share the story of Jesus anytime. When they returned to the cycle it started immediately

Another story involves a TV program beamed into Iran. Hormoz is the host of the program and he frequently received calls from a woman named Dina. Dina was a very hostile to Christians and told Hormoz that he and others were going to hell. After a few times of calling, Hormoz asked the question about her life apart from Islam. She told him that her mother was extremely ill and was going to die, and they agreed that they would commit suicide on the call-in to his program. Hormoz challenged: why don’t you give Jesus a chance for seven days? She played along and agreed to do it. What do I have to do? She asked. You must pray with me. Repeat after me, “Dear Jesus, ...” Nothing happened for a few days, but on the fifth day her bedroom door started to open and she thought a burglar was coming in and maybe her life would be threaten. That did not bother her for she was going to die in a few days anyway. But it was her mother. “Mother, what are you doing out of bed?” The mother told her that Jesus appeared to her in the night and she was healed. She could walk around and was well. Dina gave her heart to Jesus and is now trying to help young women in Iran learn about Jesus the Savior.(Tom Doyle, Visions and Dreams, p. 80)

There is a serious question to be asked about these visions and dreams in Muslim people. What does this say about the status of Islam in regard to salvation? Does it not mean that Islam is not the correct Way? Is it not a commentary that Islam is wrong? Why would Jesus be doing this if Islam were the right way? Remember that Jesus said to his followers, "I am the way, the truth, and the life!" Jesus answered. "Without me, no one can go to the Father.” (John 14:6)
While the Muslim world has turned from Jesus as Savior, Jesus has not forgotten the Muslim world. There are citizens in Mecca who have been encountered by Jesus. This must really alarm the religious police. No one knows how many people have encountered dreams and visions but the reports indicate widespread experiences in Muslim countries.

It is another example of the activity of God in the world today. Moreover, in non-Muslim countries God is doing great things in the lives of many people.

In an extensive documented study Craig Keener has written a two volume study on Miracles. When Jesus was on earth he did many miracles, such as healing lepers, the blind, the lame, the sick, and raising the dead. After the resurrection of Jesus the disciples were given the commission to go share the good news of the gospel to all the world and they did many miracles in the name of Jesus as recorded in the book of Acts. The story of miracles did not end with the book of Acts. Throughout history, since the day of Jesus there have been many miracles in the lives of believers as well as those who became believers in Jesus because they were helpless and were healed.

Keener’s study reflects on the modern period of Christians around the world now. He estimates from all the sources available that over 200 million miracles have been recorded in this period.
The growth of the Christian church is related to people who experienced miracles and became Christians. It may be a woman who watches a Jesus film who is lame and when Jesus healed a lame person in the video she has faith that He can heal her and she is healed. There are healing meetings where people come who have health issues and they are prayed over and are healed.
The church has grown rapidly in S. America, Africa, China and Asia and there are large numbers of healings related to the growth. One can imagine a blind man who has no sight and when Jesus heals his eyes to see, he naturally makes a commitment to follow Jesus. I read of only one skeptic who was healed but never made a commitment to Jesus.

Does God heal everybody? Obviously no. Why not is a mystery, but it does not negate the fact that many have been healed by God.