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How I Came To See God As He Is

Category Articles
Date June 21, 2003

Let us make this, then, our first goal – to see God as He really is – and as He is revealed to us in His Word; and to see and understand not just the truth of His Sovereignty but the many, many truths He has revealed about Himself.

by SAM DOHERTY, Northern Ireland

If Dr. Tozer is correct in his book The Knowledge of the Holy (and I believe he is) then the greatest problem in our churches today is that so many Christians do not really know what God is like. You and I can solve this problem for ourselves by studying the Word of God and by asking ourselves the question- "What does this verse (or passage) teach me about God?"

When we read the Bible we often do so in a self-centred way. We look for a promise to help us through that day, or through a problem we face. We look for a verse which will encourage us and help us to keep going. Such promises and encouragements are there and we are thankful for them. But our main purpose in reading the Bible should not be to find something for ourselves. It is to find out something about God. It may be an "old" truth which comes back to us with freshness; it may be a new truth we haven’t seen before; it may be a truth we need to see and understand more clearly. But that is what we are looking for – to see and understand God as He really is.

One of the greatest joys in my own life – and one of the most wonderful helps for my service-was when I saw, about 23 years ago, and really for the first time, that God was truly and absolutely sovereign. As a full-time Christian worker, and as a leader in a Mission, I had always believed in the sovereignty of God-in a theoretical way. If anyone had questioned me, I would have assured them of my belief in this great truth. But for many years it was for me a theoretical truth rather than a practical one.

Twenty-three years ago I was in a car on my way to teach at a Bible College in Switzerland. It was winter time and the roads were icy and snow covered. The car went into an uncontrollable skid and I was quite seriously injured. Instead of going to the Bible School, I went to the hospital. On my way there I asked the ambulance driver to stop briefly at Kilchzimmer, the European Headquarters of Child Evangelism Fellowship, where my wife and I both lived and worked. I wanted to inform my wife, of course, about what had happened, and where I was going. But I also wanted to pick up a book from my office which I could read in hospital. I did not relish the thought of lying in the hospital without having something to read. I quickly picked up a book which I knew I had never read before, and took it with me in the ambulance. The title of the book was Romans – Atonement and Justification: An Exposition of Chapters 3:20-4:25 by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. As I lay in the hospital and read that book I came into contact with truths I had not previously known or understood. I then studied the Bible to see if these truths were taught there, and I discovered they were. One of those truths was the absolute and complete Sovereignty of God; that He is Sovereign and in control of all people, all circumstances and all creatures, and that He has a plan towards which He is working, and no one or nothing can hinder Him or stop Him.

I began to see and understand this great truth as I studied it and, step by step, came to believe it – with all my heart. I saw God as He really is – the sovereign, all powerful Potentate. That was to prove a turning point in my life. When I came to understand and believe in the sovereignty of God, I began to learn how I could safely leave everything in His Hands. I had always believed in the sovereignty of God in theory but now I began to see it and understand it clearly and practically. He will always accomplish His purposes. He knows what He is doing. He does not need me or depend on me. But I need Him and depend on Him. When I have a God like that why should I worry or fret?

What a difference it makes to see God – from the Word of God – as He really is. As a result of this new understanding I came more and more to experience a new peace in difficult circumstances, a new confidence and trust when praying and evangelizing, and a new depth to both prayer and service. This did not happen all at once of course. It was not a crisis. It was a process which thankfully continues unto this day.

Charles Spurgeon said that the second greatest truth he ever learned (after the truth of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the Cross) was the truth of God’s Sovereignty. He said that the day when he first learned this truth was the day when "the boy became a man."

Let us make this, then, our first goal – to see God as He really is – and as He is revealed to us in His Word; and to see and understand not just the truth of His Sovereignty but the many, many truths He has revealed about Himself.

[For 29 years Sam Doherty was the European regional director of Child Evangelism Fellowship. Since retirement from its leadership he has written more than a dozen books on the evangelism of children which have become standard works on this subject. He lives at 53 Thornleigh Drive, Lisburn, Co. Antrim, BT28 2DA, United Kingdom].

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