Setting The Scene
The year is 2020 and all is pandemonium. Smoke from riots gushes upward to fill the air in major cities. Lockdown mandates permeate the air as much of the American populace lives in terror of COVID-19. A presidential election with massive consequences looms large every day. Yet, in the middle of that year, John MacArthur and the elders at Grace Community Church made the decision to defy unjust governmental mandates restricting the gathering of the church. That single stand sent shockwaves through the evangelical world and will be written about in church history for centuries to come. You likely know the story being familiar with this stand as well as those taken by many other churches like Grace Life Church in Edmonton where James Coates ministers. What you most likely are not familiar with is a detail recently revealed by MacArthur about this season.
On a recent installment of The MacArthur Center Podcast, MacArthur stated that the legal team fighting for the church said they had a 1% chance to win their battles in court.1 This did not phase the seasoned pastor in the least. He was not taken aback seeking to reconsider what needed to be done. Instead, he was resolved to simply undertake his duty before God come what may. As he said, “God is the God of 1%.” Dear readers, that statement centers home on a precious reality for us to consider in this post. We do not need overwhelming odds in our favor, mass numbers, or an ace in our back pocket to be faithful to the Lord. What we must have is a willingness to be faithful to our duty no matter what the cost coupled with hearts entrusting ourselves to God’s good providence. In short, we need to cultivate an attitude captivated with God knowing He will work all things for His glory and the eternal good of His people.
A Divine Pattern
What MacArthur is observing, in this case, is not without biblical precedent. Scripture records instance after instance where God takes a minority situation turning the scenario completely on its head. Consider Noah who alone, with his family, survived the flood out of all the people on the earth. From this small family, God repopulated the entire globe. He did not save the rest of humanity but worked through one family. Think about Elijah taking on the prophets of Baal. He testifies to the reality the odds are stacked to a degree of 450 Baal prophets versus Elijah who alone stood for Yahweh (1 Kings 18:22). God did not send 5,000 men to stand beside the prophet but performed a miracle testifying to His glory.
The New Testament records many great heroes of the faith. Its very record demonstrates God working through a faithful minority to bring about His will when the majority were opposed to them. Christ took only a few disciples, and empowered them through His spirit to preach the Gospel and turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6). Christ was crucified on a brutal cross, lay in the grave, and rose again on the third day. He ascended on high and told His church to go get the nations. Rome opposed the church, the Jews opposed Christianity violently, and pagan religions strenuously stood against the saints because they claimed Jesus alone is the way of salvation. Christianity stands strong while Rome’s empire has crumbled. It has outlasted attacks and assaults on all sides. The faith perseveres having worn out many enemies who have tried to hammer it out only to wear out themselves. All of this has happened by the powerful providence of God working everything according to His plan often in ways we could not have imagined even when the odds seemed humanly stacked against the believers. Again, “God works through the 1%” is seen repeatedly wherever one may look.
Many Christians living in the current moment seem to be paralyzed by all the world is throwing at them. Whether we think about societal pressures from a culture in chaos, the saddening reality of a seemingly weakening evangelical church in the West, or increased measures of governmental overreach, we see grave cause for concern. That is not even mentioning the daily matters of life which cause situations of strife for everyone. Whenever we see all these mighty giants, we must remember that God is more powerful than all of them. Everything is going perfectly according to His plan. He is not caught off-guard nor is He going to need to come up with a secondary plan. It is a lie that says we need the majority to be faithful or see a great act of God in our day. No, God can turn the entire nation to Himself if he so desires, but He often uses a small minority to spark that great work. God does not need the popular vote to accomplish what He intends. He is quite capable of seeing whatever He desires come to fruition.
Our goal as Christians must be to understand that even when we are sitting there looking at 99% odds stacked against us, God is still working. Sometimes, as in the case of MacArthur, He will bring a mighty deliverance. There are seasons of life where God raises up a man like Peter and sends him to preach at Pentecost so that by His power thousands are saved. Yet, there are other times where He looks at a man like the prophet Habakkuk and tells him that his future consists of judgment. Whichever the case for our future, we should say with Habakkuk:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”
We stand firm knowing God will do what He has planned. Christians do not serve God because He has promised them an easy life filled with treasures, that is the blasphemous teaching of the antichristian prosperity gospel. Instead, we stand in awe of the glory of God serving Him with faithfulness simply because of who He is and the reality He is worthy of our worship and adoration! Our hearts are then filled with joyful encouragement. Whether the days ahead are filled with revival and reformation or chaotic destruction, God is the One in whom we find our joy. No odds are too great for Him to overcome. There is not a group too small for Him to work through. He uses us as human beings by His mercy giving us the ability to serve Him as a gift of grace. May we simply rejoice in “the God of 1%” who does what is seemingly impossible so that His name might be magnified!