The God with Whom we have to do

Heb. 4:13.---' All things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.'

In these words we have a most impressive and suggestive description of God. He is ' the One with whom we have to do '; the one Being, that is, with whom, above all others, we have dealings; with whom we come into the most intimate and unceasing contact. In theory none will dispute that this is true as regards our relations with God. And yet what a contrast here with the ordinary thinking of most men, even of many Christians! How often we think of God as if He were afar off, seated on the throne of the heavens, content---for the present, at least---to watch our doings from a distance; or as if our relation to Him and His to us were only vague and general, and not personal and special; or again as if we were only to have to do with Him in the future; or as if, though we have to do with Him in the present life, yet this were only on rare occasions, in life's great crises, such as compel us in spite of ourselves to say, ' This is the finger of God.'

Such are the ways in which most men think of God; over against which stand the words of the text, which declare that God is ' the One with whom we have to do ' words teaching that each and every one of us, not in the past or in the future, or merely now and then, but in the living present, and that continuously, is having to do with God. All this is legitimately included in the grammatical sense or the words: God is the One with whom we have to do. What is contained in this thought?

1. In the first place, God is the One with whom we are constantly having to do, in what we call Nature. Science is making this clearer and clearer every year. For there are two things which the modern advance of scientific thought has brought very distinctly before us. The first of these is the fact of the unity of all the forces of Nature. Our fathers used to suppose that light and heat and electricity and magnetism were all forces quite distinct and separate. We have learned that they are so only in appearance; that in reality all the physical forces are one; different manifestations of one force, which, moreover, is incapable of either increase or diminution, absolutely indestructible. The second fact toward which all scientific investigation points is no less remarkable and significant; namely, that force---this one force which is manifested to our sense under all these different forms---is spiritual. It is not, and cannot be, material, or of material origin. It is of the very nature of matter that it is dead and inert; the power, therefore, which flashes in the sunshine or warms us with the heat, or strikes us with the lightning, or crashes in the thunder, must have its source and origin in a Being immaterial and spiritual. So far Science can go, but no farther. Standing with dumb awe before the veil which hides from profane vision the unseen Holy, she trembles to utter the dread secret, the inner mystery of Nature. But who, or what, is the Being, the spiritual Being, from whom constantly flows forth this inexhaustible stream of power which continually thrills through the infinite spaces of the universe? Who can that Being be, but God? For, in all this, science is but unconsciously iterating the testimony of Scripture, which constantly represents all the forces of Nature as the manifested power of the sole and only God: as therefore spiritual in their innermost nature, because the one God is a personal Spirit. For it is declared that in the thunder it is God that thundereth marvelously with His voice; that it is God who causeth His sun to shine and His rain to fall alike on the evil and on the good, and also in the desert places where no man dwelleth; that it is God who calleth forth the lightnings, that they may come and say, ' Behold us!' while He rides upon the wings of the wind, and makes the clouds His chariot.

2. Secondly, we have to do with God in Providence. By Providence we mean God's over-ruling care over all events in Nature and all the actions and circumstances of men. Now in His Word it is clearly and repeatedly asserted that He has a purpose which He is evolving from age to age in the history of the human race as a whole, and of every individual in it. ' There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.' The hearts of all men are ' in the hand of the Lord; he turneth them whithersoever he will.' ' A man's heart deviseth his way; but the Lord directeth his steps.' A sparrow ' shall not fall on the ground without your Father.' ' The very hairs of your head are all numbered.'

Now if we assent to the doctrine that God's Providence is in and over all events, it will give a new importance to every occurrence. The history of the past will then become to us a part of God's revelation of Himself to men, and the incidents of the present will be felt to be the unfolding of that ' one increasing purpose ' of His which is running through the ages. They will seem to us to be a part of the unwinding of that roll which shall stretch at last from the beginning to the end of time---from paradise lost to paradise regained---and shall be bright with the manifestation of the wisdom and love of the Most High. No, more: if we assent to this doctrine---and there seems to be no alternative between that and atheism---then the events in our personal history, painful and pleasant alike, are seen to be ' the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us,' and we enter into the assurance of the Apostle when he says, ' We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.'

3. We have to do with God in the awards of final judgment. The judgment is absolutely certain; for ' it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.' It is to be universal; for before the judge shall be gathered all nations.' The judge is to be the Omniscient One, who is acquainted with the secret things of each man's heart and life, and the Righteous One, who shall render to every man according to his works. Now when we take all these things into consideration, and remember that we are making now the materials for which these awards are to be given at the last, ' what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?' The day of judgment will make nothing new. It will only reveal the characters which we are making now, and stamp them with the fixity of eternity. Thus we invest the brief space of our lives here with tremendous importance, for it holds in it the issues of eternity; and it does so because in the whole matter we have to do with God.

This sense of judgment to come is felt the wide world over. Pray for the many that are called, today this day of Thanksgiving. Amen.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha