Is your God able?

God is. God is able. God is able to save.

John M. Fowler, Ed.D., is an associate director of the Department of Education at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and a contributing editor of Ministry.

The king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" (Dan. 6:20).

Swift was the decree and savage were to be the consequences. The pride of the king, pushed by the sycophancy of his followers, made the king feel equal to God. Power, so tempted, quickly trans formed itself into arrogance, and the decree was issued: Worship no god but Darius the king or else face the hungry lions. The order posed no problem to the ordinary, to the power-crazy, to the com promising, and to the opportunistic. But while the empire bowed its head and bent its knee to Darius, there was a man whose head could bow only to God, and whose knees could bend only to converse with his Creator. Daniel defied death and chose to stand for his faith, his belief, and his God. The result? Daniel in the lions' den. The empire awaited Daniel to disappear in the lions' inner regions. At that moment of intense crisis and anticipation, the king asked that crucial question: Is your God able?

The story ended happily. God was able to deliver Daniel. Faith stood vindicated; pride defeated; truth victorious. But the question and the answer stare down the centuries, and challenge our own experience to establish three facts: God is, God is able, and God is able to save.

God is. The fact of God is not dependent on the fact of man or woman. A Darius can say that there is no god but him. That proves nothing but the folly of the arrogant. A Voltaire can say of God, "We nod, but we do not speak," but that kind of sophisticated indifference leaves one neither here nor there. A Nietzsche can say God is dead, but in the depth of his soul he discovers a vacuum and wonders if there is a God after all. On the other hand, a disciple John can testify: "In the beginning . . . God" (John 1:1-3). Or an apostle Paul can shout to the world: In God "we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28). Oran Augustine can climb out of the gutters of lostness to reach for the stars and affirm: "My soul was restless until it found its rest in God." Only faith can grasp freely, yet not arbitrarily, the existence of God, and make Him the reality of life. Futility wonders if God is, and in that wonderment there is nothing but lostness.

God is able. God not only is, but is able. The testimony of the Bible is about a God who acts. Out of chaos He brings about creation. Out of darkness He ushers in light. Out of bondage He causes freedom to rise. He says; it is done. He commands; it is so.

But the ability of God cannot imperiously command human acceptance. It awaits the reach of faith. But what kind of faith? Says Francis Schaeffer: "In Christianity, the value of faith depends upon the object towards which the faith is directed. So it looks outward to the God who is there, and the Christ who in history died upon the cross once for all, finished the work of atonement and on the third day rose again in space and in time."*

Only faith that lives at the call of the Almighty, without compromise on principles or submission to personal convenience, can find that God is able. Only where integrity is not for sale, where the soul is not for exchange, where the spiritual is not bargained away in preference to the mundane, where the other is not crushed in order that the I may survive, where the cross is the basis of it all, can faith discover that God is able.

God is able to save. God is. God is able. God is able to save. From what did God save Daniel? It would be childish to think that God's saving act was limited to shutting the lions' mouths. Before and beyond that, there were other acts of God's salvation. Faith in a living God sees God's redemptive activity come to the aid of a faltering soul. Before Daniel could descend into the lions' den, he had tasted the power of redemptive faith. He had experienced God's saving acts from pride, from delusion of power, from arrogance of wealth, from self-centeredness, from sin.

To save in the sense of making us to remain in continuous relationship with God is the ultimate purpose of God's redemptive act. He saves us from guilt. He saves us from the past. He saves us from being lost. He saves us from sin. He saves us for a new beginning. The cross, then, is the ultimate assurance that God is able to save and is worthy of all our trust and faith. "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him?" (Rom. 8:32, RSV).

We need, therefore, to climb a hill called Calvary before we receive that courage to go down into the den of lions. Then and only then will we discover that "he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God" (Heb. 7:25, RSV).

*Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1968), p. 62.

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John M. Fowler, Ed.D., is an associate director of the Department of Education at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and a contributing editor of Ministry.

March 1992

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