God In The Whirlwind

 The following article is taken from chapter one of “God In The Whirlwind,” by David F. Wells.  (Published by Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois; 2014.  Pp 32 – 33).

In the first chapter of the book the author discusses the condition of Western Culture and the Church’s relationship to that culture.

“The American church is on the forefront of encountering this modernized world.  How it should manage this engagement, though, has become its most perplexing dilemma.  And it is also its most urgent challenge.  Clearly, it has often been tempted to adapt Christian faith to this context, rather than to confront the context where that is required.  Instead of becoming an alternative view of life, Christian faith has often become an echo, in many ways, of what is happening in this kind of modernized culture.

Jesus would be surprised to see how easy the kingdom of God has become as we have made ourselves relevant to the culture (emphasis – my own).

There are, in fact, gut-wrenching changes taking place in our Western societies.  Our world is being shaken to its very foundations.  Instead of offering great thoughts about God, the meaning of reality, and the gospel, there are evangelical churches that are offering only little therapeutic nostrums that are sweet but mostly worthless.  One even wonders whether some current churchgoers might even be resistant were they to encounter a Christianity that is deep, costly, and demanding.

That is why we must come back to our first principles.  And the most basic of these is the fact that God is there and that he is objective to us.  He is not there to conform to us; we must conform to him.  He summons us from outside of ourselves to know him.  We do not go inside of ourselves to find him.  We are summoned to know him only on his terms.  He is not known on our terms.  This summons is heard in and through his Word.  It is not heard through our intuitions.

These are our most basic principles because they deal with our most basic issues and our most basic calling.  That calling is to know God as he has made himself known and in the ways that he has prescribed.  We are to hear this call within the framework he has established.  He is not there at our convenience, or simply for our healing, or simply as the Divine Teller handing out stuff from his big bank.  No, we are here for his service.  We are here to know him as he is and not as we want him to be.  The local church is the place where we should be learning about this, and God’s Word is the means by which we can do so.

But I must go further.  It is not enough to know that God has given us truth that corresponds to what is there, that corresponds to him who is there.  Additionally, this is the Word that God himself uses to address us personally.  In doing so, he makes us knowers of himself.  He comes from outside our circumstances.  He is not limited by our subjectivity.  He is free to break in upon us, making us his own, and incorporate us into his great redemptive plans which have been unfolding across the centuries.  The Holy Spirit re-speaks Scripture’s truth to us today and opens our minds and hearts to receive it.  Thus we are given, not just a view of God and of ourselves, but the view.  And not just the right and true view.  We are given God himself, who comes to us through his Word by the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is God who makes us knowers of himself.”