Vol. VIII — No. 29 July 23, 1967


How Big Is Your God?

Luke 1:37

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

In Christ Jesus, with whom nothing is impossible, Fellow Redeemed:

Your God is too small! That is a censure that many today, who bear the name Christian, deserve.

How does it happen that the almighty God, who created and upholds and fills all things, becomes too small for little man? The more important man imagines himself to be, the less important he considers God to be. The more powerful man believes himself to be, the weaker and more impotent he considers God. The more independent man grows, the less he concerns himself at all about God. As man grows in his own estimation and imagination, so God diminishes in his sight. That’s an unfailing law of human behavior.

Think of Pharaoh of old. When Moses appeared before him as the spokesman of the Lord God, saying, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go,” Pharaoh answered in blasphemous defiance, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?” Pharoah had grown big in his own sight. And with that bloated growth the Lord God had shrunk in his sight. He learned—the hard way and too late! Think of King Nebuchadnezzar, the builder and mighty monarch of Babylon. He too became inflated with his own ego. He began to look upon himself as god—the captain of his own fate and the master of his soul. As he strutted about his hanging gardens, the pride of his soul over-flowed in the words of his mouth and he said, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?” Daniel 4:30. The existence of any god was lost to the egotism of the king. But in that same hour the Lord God took from King Nebuchadnezzar his reason, and he became as a beast of the field. So the mighty fall when they become big and their God becomes small!

I have brought you two case histories of inflated egos that made God so very small. But some may think, “These are but isolated cases from the pages of ancient history.” True you are, but the disease of the inflated ego that makes God small is the disease of our age and of our culture and of our civilization. Never before in the history of man has man emerged as such a master of creation. We fly faster than sound. We can communicate instantaneously anywhere on the globe. we explore outer space. Automation and cyber-nation have become commonplace. We heal the sick; we hope to raise the dead. We can even blow up the world. Any and every problem is but submitted to a corps of experts with the confidence that they shall come up with a solution. What happens to God in the midst of all these achievements of man? He has been pushed into the corner as a relic of the days when man could not solve his own problems and had to appeal to God for help. But what need is there for God when man believes that he can answer all the questions and solve all the problems? For all practical purposes God is and can be dead! So say many.

Christians live in this thought environment. The thinking of the world about, the attitudes of leaders in all areas of life, the feelings of the common man on the street all bring their pressures to bear upon the Christian. The result has been and is that God has become very small for many a person who still considers himself a Christian. How is it with us? we live in the world. We rub elbows daily with the world. we are exposed. How have we been affected? You answer for yourself, as I ask you:


God grant that you are able to answer:

The scene was laid in a little city in Galilee, called Nazareth. There lived there a young virgin called Mary. One day a messenger from heaven appeared unto her with a message from God Himself: “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” That was quite an announcement—that all the words of the prophets, that the hopes of all Israel and blessing for all mankind should be fulfilled in a child born to her. Mary was a realist—a common, practical sort of a woman. She asked the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” There was no delay in answering by the angel. He told her, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” The angel knew that such a conception and birth had never occurred before in the history of mankind, that it was contrary to all known laws of nature. He knew the leap of faith that Mary had to make. He helped her by telling her that her aging cousin, Elizabeth, who was known among her relatives and friends and in the community as the “barren one,” had conceived a child in her old age. Then he added the final support for her faith in the simple words, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” That is a statement of a truth that makes God big and powerful, as He is indeed. With God nothing is impossible!

I am sure that we all realize that in our modern day the ego and self-importance of man has grown so great and God has shrunk in man’s eyes so much that modern man no longer is willing to accept any supernaturalism in the Bible. It is simply argued that all things have natural causes, that conception occurs when the male cell is united with the female cell, and that accordingly a virgin-birth is scientifically impossible. Granted. No one denies that this is the natural and normal way that life is generated here on earth. But our Creator-God is not the victim and slave of His own creation. He’s bigger than all creation, bigger also than the laws of nature, for with our God nothing shall be impossible. For anyone who has such a big God, the virgin-birth of the Lord Jesus is no problem at all. But when a person's God has grown small and weak and helpless, then the record must be changed to fit such a puny God. And so we see in the church today people saying that Isaiah never prophesied the “virgin-birth,” but that he just said a “young woman” shall conceive, that Matthew went along with the common myth and wrote of the “virgin-birth,” that Luke was recording some symbolic truth rather than an actual event in history. When man becomes big in his own estimation, God tends to shrink in his estimation. But when God becomes so small, man is the loser, for a puny, little “god” can’t help and save!

How big is your God? If you have become the victim of the spirit of the times and if your “god” has begun to shrink—perhaps without even you realizing it—that development will have its effect upon your prayer-life. One of the things that is held up for ridicule today, even within the church, is petitionary prayer. That is the prayer that calls upon God in the day of trouble, as He has instructed. If God is really so small, so helpless, so impotent, so weak, what is the use of calling upon Him in the day of sickness, when accidents strike, when facing death, when confronted with some of the many problems that do confront us in this life? The argument is that God can't help, even if He wanted to. The only benefit that anyone gets from asking things of God in prayer is a psychological benefit. If praying makes a person feel better and relieves tension, then let the person pray. Such is the advice of all those with a very small God.

How big is your God? Is He big enough to handle any problem that may confront you in your life? He is, for with God nothing is impossible. Children of God down through the ages have believed in a God able to help, and He has helped. Moses cried unto the Lord when he and the Children of Israel were trapped between the sea and the hosts of the Egyptians. The Lord helped by opening up a highway through the sea. Joshua let the almighty God of Israel fight for him, and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Jonah prayed in the belly of the fish; his God heard and caused the fish to spit him out on shore. Daniel prayed in the lions’ den, and the Lord sent an angel to convert those ferocious beasts into gentle kittens for the night. The sick, the diseased, the lame, the blind came to the Lord Jesus and prayed for healing, and He healed them. Certainly we know the explanations of the “big” men who have made God so small—that our Lord gave real healing to imaginary ailments and imagined healing to real ailments. So speaks unbelief both within and without the church. Pity these people who have such a small “god” and who actually have made themselves their own “gods”—whom they worship with hell-inspired fanaticism. How big is your God? My God is big enough to stand at the grave of Lazarus and call his decaying body back to life. My God is big enough to foretell not only His own death, but also His resurrection, for He who died did arise again on the third day. What a comfort, what security, what joy, what hope to have such a big and powerful God as your God! May this God, with whom nothing is impossible, be and remain your God!

This picture of God as great and powerful appears in an entirely different context elsewhere in Scripture. The situation is most instructive. Recall the rich young man who came to the Lord with all the intenseness and dedication of youth, asking, “what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Matthew l9:l6. The poor man was under the illusion of greatness which had made his God so very small. He imagined that he could do something to inherit life. He didn’t know that God is the Giver of all things, also and especially eternal life. No man, without exception, can do anything to gain eternal life. God gives that life in and through His Son, our Lord Jesus.

This the young man had to learn. Jesus catechized him on the commandments. In the ignorance of his spiritual self-importance, the youth claimed to have kept all the commandments from little on. when man becomes inflated with his own spiritual achievements, he really does show his spiritual ignorance. The Lord suddenly punctured his pride by telling him to sell all that he had and give it to the poor. That was a drastic way of making the young fellow realize that mammon, wealth and all that wealth means, was his god. He was an idolater. The young man left sorrowfully.

Then Jesus took off on the problem of the rich, saying, “verily, I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly—with difficulty—enter into the kingdom of heaven … It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” That saying of the Lord really shook the disciples and they asked, “who then can be saved?” without a bit of hesitation Jesus answered, “with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

What man cannot do, God can do—not this time in the power of His might, but in the power of His grace. God can cause a rich man to become the master rather than the slave of his wealth. He can cause a rich man to look to the Lord for help rather than to his wealth. He can cause a rich man to realize that his wealth is of no avail to remove his sin and guilt. He can cause a rich man to bow his knee in humble faith before the Savior from sin and the Giver of life.

With God these things are possible. Do you believe that you were conceived and born in sin and that if left to your own devices you would live out your little span of life and then begin an eternity of torment, but that you have been saved by God’s Son, born of the virgin Mary, who died and rose again to remove your sin and guilt? Do you believe this? If you do, as I pray you do, it is because nothing is impossible with God.

His Spirit has worked faith in your heart through the Gospel. Do you believe that God is big enough to handle the personal problems that arise in your life? If you do. His Spirit has worked that faith in you. Then you are His child, living safely and securely under the shadow of His wing.

HOW BIG IS YOUR GOD? God grant that you are able to answer: WITH MY GOD NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE!


—Pastor Paul F. Nolting

Preached - July 9, 1967
Holy Trinity Independent
Evangelical Lutheran Church
West Columbia, South Carolina

Ministry by Mail is a weekly publication of the Church of the Lutheran Confession. Subscription and staff information may be found online at www.clclutheran.org/ministrybymail.