Article by Emmanuel Njoroge.
In a previous post I sought to show that the statement often used by many that “God helps those who help themselves” is an unbiblical and false statement. Man is helpless in and of himself; he cannot help himself. For this very reason, neither can he help God help him. On the other hand, God is self-sufficient, he does not need any help from anyone. One of the arguments that I made and want to build upon was that “Man’s need for help was not as a result of the fall. Rather, it is imprinted on his creatureliness.” On the other hand, it is blasphemous, to in any sense, attribute the need for help to God because unlike the creatures, God is uncreated. He is creator. The Creator/Creature distinction is an important element in understanding this subject. To better grasp the element of creator/creature distinction and its significance on the subject of help I will discuss it in three aspects: Creation, fall, and Redemption.
God’s Help at and in Creation
The Christian text of the Scriptures begin with the assumption that God has had no beginning and affirms that God has no end. It claims that He is from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2). This is a mystery that makes Christianity unique. It is important, for then, it says that, in the beginning God created… (Genesis 1:1). This means that everything that is, begun with God creating, and nothing that is was not created by God (John 1:3). No one was there to help God in Creation, why would anyone think that God needs our help now? In fact, the Scriptures are explicit with the truth that God sustains his creation (Psalm 147:9; Matthew 6:26; Colossians 1:16-17). All creation depends on God. God does not depend, –to any extent, on his creation. Why would anyone think that God needs our help? It is also noteworthy that God created man in the image of God –male and female he created them (Genesis 1:26). He made Adam a helpmate who would image God’s help to and for man (Genesis 2:18,20).
God’s Help after the fall
If one wants to trace where the false conception of man helping God originated from, one easily finds it at the fall. As soon as Adam and Eve found out that they were naked they sought to cover themselves “help God” with leaves (Genesis 3:7). They thought this would solve the problem. But it did not. Ever since, man has sought out his own way to fix the problem only to find himself in more problems. But God intervened and helped them, he made “garments of skin and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Not only did he fix the temporal problem of physical nakedness, but he also promised them an eternal solution for their spiritual nakedness (Genesis 3:15). The fall has not made it difficult for God to help man, rather, it has made it difficult for man to realize God’s ever present delightful help! Despite the fall, sinful man continues to enjoy God’s help through what has often been termed as Common grace. This is best demonstrated by the fact that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
God’s help in Redemption
The ultimate help of God for man is realized in Redemption! A highlight of this reality can be traced back to the people of God in the Old Testament. God had fulfilled His promise to Abraham of making of him a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3), but he had also made known to Abraham of what his offspring will be, He told Abraham that “your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years….” (Genesis 15:13). But after this, God would intervene and rescue them by judging the nation that afflicted Abraham’s offspring. The book of Exodus records the whole account of how God fulfills his promise of redemption for his people which is only a shadow of a grander reality of redemption. The substance of this redemption would be fully realized in the person and work of Jesus Christ –Redemption accomplished; and in the person and work of the Holy Spirit –Redemption applied. The Prophets in the Scripture captures the substance of this redemption as they anticipate a future redemption that would be realized at the coming of the Messiah King. Micah captures it best perhaps, “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea…” (Micah 7:18-19).
In essence, the Scriptures paints our spiritual condition to that of the Israelite’s physical condition under slavery in Egypt. And on the other hand, the physical deliverance that is experienced by the Israelites is a picture of the spiritual deliverance that all mankind need. For though the Israelites were physically rescued from Egypt and settled in the promised land, their hearts were still turned away from God (Hosea 11:7). For this reason, God sent them into exile (Hosea 11:17). Yet there is a promise of redemption made; as mentioned above, “God will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea…”.
The gospel is God’s help for helpless sinful man. In Christ Jesus, God the Father casts all our sins into the depths of the sea. Romans 4:25 speaks of Christ’s death and resurrection through which our sins are taken away and we find justification. Apart from Christ we are those who are dead in sin and trespasses. We are those who are without hope and utterly helpless. But Christ, in Him we find help and we are helped.
Photo by Fernando Venzano on Unsplash