By Anthony Wayne Goforth
In the barren old age of Abraham and Sarah, God promised a seed heir (Gen. 15:4). We usually think of Abraham as the great example of living faith, and so he was for the most part, but faltered with this difficult-to-believe promise of God.
As we read Genesis 16:1-2, we find that Abraham tried to help God out by taking Sarah’s Egyptian maid. A child did indeed come from this relationship, Ishmael, the father of the Arab nations today. By helping God out, he brought many future problems among his descendants, for Ishmael was not the seed of promise, but rather his descendants have been the enemy of the Jews to this day.
Man has continued to “help God out” over the years, which comes from a lack of faith in what God has to say.
A. The Genesis account of creation. Many theories have been established to harmonize the Bible’s version of creation with modern science. Everything from the day-age theory to theistic evolution has been proposed by the modern critics who live on the faith of their parents.
If Genesis 1 is not to be taken literally, then why any of it? Any attempt to “help God out” by doing anything less than taking God’s account of creation as literal will do nothing more than wave doubt over the rest of His divine revelation, and does nothing more than create an enemy for God’s people as Abraham did of old.
B. The Virgin birth. Isaiah 7:14 gives us a prophecy concerning the birth of Christ – the virgin birth of Christ. Yet, some modern translations since the RSV have translated virgin as “young woman.” After all, a virgin cannot have a baby -which is exactly the point, she cannot by any normal natural means be with child. What kind of a sign would it be for a “young woman to conceive and bear a child”? It might be the sign of many things, but not divinity. The RSV translators had reason to translate the Hebrew almah as young woman rather than virgin. Harold Orlinsky, the prime translator was an unbelieving Jew who would certainly wish to discredit the virgin birth of our Lord. In fact, he even said that Abraham and Moses were just Jewish legends in his translator’s preface! Yet, as we read the New Testament, we find Isaiah 7:14 quoted in Matthew 1:23 as “virgin.” Notice verse 25, “. . . Kept her a virgin until she gave birth. . . ” and notice the odd wording of Galatians 4:4, calling Christ the seed of woman. Do we give credence to those who would call into question the deity of Christ?
C. The organization of the church. Man, still believing that God is not able to carry out what He has said He would and in the manner and through the organization He has established, has further continued to “help God out” by changing the patterns of the New Testament church and by creating other organizations to do what God has specified only for His church. But, it is argued, “These organizations are doing the work of the church for them.” Funny, for Hagar was doing the work of Sarah for her as well!
God is well able to fulfill all He has said. There is no need to “help God out” as we have suggested in this study. Where God has spoken we can rest in full confidence knowing what promises He has made, He can fulfill, in the organizations He has ordained, whether it be the home or church; they can do all God requires each to do without the aid of outside organizations to do their work for them. As we attempt to help God out, we compromise His Word little by little.
It is as the story of the fish monger who opened his business with the sign out front reading, “Fresh Fish Sold Today.” Someone asked him, “Why the word ‘fresh’ in your sign? Your integrity should vouch for that. ” Another asked, “Why the ‘today’? We know it’s not yesterday or tomorrow.” Another said, “You should remove the ‘sold’ for everyone knows you’re not giving it away.” This left him with the one word “fish,” to the which someone remarked, “Don’t bother with that, for we can smell them a block away.”
Little by little we are told we cannot take God at His word and must compromise by helping Him out. Instead, let us put up our sign as the fish monger and refuse to remove one iota from it, contending earnestly for the faith which was once and for all time delivered, never to be repeated (Jude 3).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 14, pp. 419, 439
July 17, 1986