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Zero People

By David A. DePra

If you trace Godís dealings with those for whom He had a special purpose in the Bible, indeed, if there can be such a thing as a, "special purpose," you will find a common pattern. It is one that is repeated in the life of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, and certainly in the life of His Son. That principle is this: God speaks a clear word. A promise. And then the person to whom He speaks that word is brought down to ZERO. They become, "zero people." They are brought to where it seems utterly impossible that Godís word could come to pass. In fact, it is at that point that the person begins to wonder, not whether God is faithful, but whether God really did speak. Only when that point is reached is the word brought to pass. Indeed, only then CAN it be brought to pass.

In this we see the wisdom of God. It isnít that God is playing games. It isnít as if He sat down one day and decided to formulate a clever pattern He could use to tease us. No. The whole pattern I have described above is necessary because of the nature of things. It is necessary because of our nature, and necessary because of HIS.

God has a will for you and I. But often WE are the biggest obstacles to His will Ė in our own lives. How so? Well, instead of believing and trusting God for His will, we try to pry it out of Godís hands. After all, it is HIS WILL! But God must wait until we stop, or bring about a process whereby we will be reduced to a, "zero person."

God desires to bless us more than we desire to be blessed Ė spiritually and physically. But He cannot bless us as long as we are trying to wrest the blessing from Him through natural means. Rather, He must reduce us down to nothing so that we will be fit vessels for everything He wants to give us, and more importantly, BE to us.

Promises

God has many promises in His Word. Certainly, His biggest promises have to do with His faithfulness to us. Often, this has to do with spiritual issues. But along side of spiritual issues, God does make material promises. And yet the two cannot be divorced. For every material promise God makes carries with it a spiritual work.

If God makes a promise to me pertaining to something physical, I can be sure that there is more involved in it that the THING God has promised. God wants to do a work IN ME that will enable me to receive the thing. Indeed, the work God does IN ME is usually more important than the things itself Ė for the work IN ME always involves my relationship with HIM.

If God were merely interested in doing a THING called, "His will," on this earth Ė in the form of events or miracles Ė then I suppose all God would have to do is speak a word and then do it. In fact, He really wouldnít even need to speak a word or promise. He would just do His will and be done with it. But no. Despite the fact that God certainly remains free to work that way if He chooses, most often He doesnít work that way. Rather, He wants to work IN US, and THROUGH us Ė and He will often use a promise.

For example, we can turn to the story of Abraham. God could have given Abram a son anytime He wanted to. He could have given him a son even without all the fanfare of a promise. In fact, God could have seen to it that Abram had a son much earlier in life, and could have raised up Israel out of him Ė just as He eventually did through Isaac. If all God wanted to do was His will Ė mechanically and historically Ė that is all that would have been necessary.

But instead, God waited until Abram was about 74 years old, and desperate for an heir, to promise Abram a son. And I can imagine that after God first spoke that promise that Abraham probably thought his son would be born right away. He probably rejoiced and quit struggling over it. God had said it. And Abram, we are told, BELIEVED GOD. In fact, his faith was so real that the Bible says, "It was reckoned to him for righteousness." (Gen. 15:6) Indeed, it Abramís faith in Godís promise, at that point in his life, that the Bible uses as the prototype for OUR faith in Christ.

Both Abraham and Sarah were in their seventies. Time was quickly running out. So we can imagine that Abram, each month, would ask Sarah if she were with child. The answer was always NO. After a few months, and then a few years of this kind of disappointment, the, "glow," and the, "joy," of the promise surely wore off. What made matters more difficult for Abraham was the fact that his biological clock, not to mention Saraís, was ticking. There was really a deadline involved with this thing. Every month that passed made the promise more impossible. Little did Abraham know that it would be 26 years until Isaac was born.

Halfway through this waiting period, Abram made a big mistake. He knew that God was faithful. But it wasnít happening. And every day it was getting more impossible for it to happen. So Abram and Sarah began to calculate. They began to wonder whether they had misunderstood God. And it was at that point that Abram took matters into his own hands and it resulted in the birth is Ishmael.

Natural Thinking

Never think that Abram rebelled against God. Not once in the Bible when Abraham is mentioned, is it ever suggested that Abraham doubted the faithfulness of God, or that Abraham lost faith. No. What Abraham did was take inventory with his natural thinking and he came to the conclusion that it was impossible for him to birth a child through Sarah. He therefore reasoned that God MUST HAVE MEANT something else. In short, Abram Ė because he looked at the evidence around him Ė concluded that God intended to keep His promise through another means than Sarah.

Now notice what went on here: Abram had received a clear promise. But God had waited until it was impossible through natural means. Abram thought this meant he misunderstood God. In reality, Abram had heard clearly, and the impossibility was exactly what God wanted.

Can we see ourselves in here anywhere? And can we see a pattern God uses? When things get to the place where Godís word seems impossible, we think we have missed the boat somewhere. In reality, it may be exactly the condition God has been working towards all along.

This is no small point. As earlier stated, it is often the pattern God uses when He wants to do something special. And it is just as common for us to misunderstand. God is trying to show us that we are ZERO. We try to avoid that at all cost because we think it will disqualify us for the promise. In reality, it is the point God must have to bring His promise to pass.

All through the Bible, the same principle is stated. Life always comes from death Ė but we try to bring life without the death. Jesus said to lose our lives in order to find them in Him, but we try to save what God tells us to lose. Always we try to avoid the very condition that God wants Ė that is absolutely necessary for God to bring His word to pass. God wants us to be at zero Ė to be totally convinced that we donít have what we need, and have no way of getting it. But we fear this condition and try to avoid it at all costs.

If we have any faith at all, we usually donít do this to rebel against God, or because we actually think He lied to us. Rather, we do it because we think we have misunderstood God. We cannot bridge the chasm between Godís promise and the evidence around us with our faith Ė and so we try to fill in the blank with our natural thinking or perhaps our natural efforts. It wonít work.

It is here that another incredible principle comes into play. You will notice that if you read the Genesis account of Abram, that when Abram assumed he had misunderstood God, and therefore took Sarahís advice to birth a son through her servant girl, that God did not come running down from heaven to stop Abram. God had spoken His word to Abram a number of times up to this point. But when Abram got off into the natural side of things, GOD LET HIM. And most often, God will let us do the same thing.

Why? Well, that is a question we often ask God once we realize we have erred, isnít it? We say, "God, why did You allow me to make that mistake? You could have stopped me. But you did not!" What makes this more difficult is that you begin to wonder whether you will make the same mistake the next time God gives you a promise. If you cannot count on God to keep you out of these errors of judgment, what CAN you count on?

Well, first of all, WHY did God allow Abram to make this big mistake? Ė WHY does He sometimes allow US to make them? The answer gets back to the necessity of God reducing us to ZERO. You see, Abram tried to take matters into his own hands because at that point he was not yet reduced to ZERO. He still had options Ė and the fact that he used one of them proves he was not yet reduced to ZERO! But if you examine that, you find both the wisdom and love of God. In other words, God allowed Abram to make this big error of judgment because God knew that it was only BY allowing it that Abram could be reduced to ZERO. In short, God used even Abramís error to get him to where He wanted him Ė so that He could bring to pass His promise to Abram.

Donít misunderstand. Iím not saying that God WILLS that we take matters into our own hands and reap consequences for it. But what I am saying is that it is going to be our nature to do it. It is simply the way we are. And all the teaching, information, and words of God to us isnít going to solve the problem. There are times when God MUST allow us to try to do a thing in our natural strength because it is the only way we will be exhausted, reduced, and brought to where He wants us to be: At ZERO.

Abram birthed Ishmael and would have been perfectly happy with him as his heir. But he was not the promise of God Ė he was not birthed through Sarah. So once Abram got done doing things his way, and this was out of his system, God brought him back on course. God was going to bring His full promise to pass Ė exactly the way He promised Abram.

God Wanted Abraham

Through the promise of a son, and through those 26 years of waiting, God was doing more than simply bringing to pass the birth of an heir to Abram. Rather, He was taking a man named ABRAM, and doing a work in him that would make him into ABRAHAM. Abram received the promise from God and believed it Ė his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness. But only Abraham could actually receive the promise.

This is what God always does Ė it is the Biblical pattern for Godís special purposes. Abram received a promise, and God used that very promise to TRY him Ė God brought Abram to the place where he was ZERO. Then, when Abram was absolutely reduced to zero, and totally convinced that that it was so, God renamed him, "Abraham." (see Gen. 17:5) Abram had become Abraham, "the father of many nations," only because he had been brought to the place where he was unable even to birth ONE son. And yet God used him to birth a physical nation, and then as the spiritual father of those who would be born again in Christ.

Never think that when things are impossible that you have been wrong about God. The fact that they are impossible is not the evidence. Neither is it evidence that you are being reduced to where you need a miracle. Nope. That may be the entire GOAL. The only evidence that matters is what God has spoken.

Other Considerations

There is, of course, always the possibility that we COULD misinterpret God. Christians do that all the time. Christians think they have, "leadings," and, "words," from God, and many times it turns out that God never spoke. The promise they thought they had probably came out of their own thinking or emotions. So how does that possibility fit into this whole pattern of God?

Well, this is one of the reasons why God must reduce us to a zero before He brings to pass His word. And it is the reason why we need to allow God to bring to pass His word, instead of trying to do it for Him. By the time God is done with us, if He did not speak, we are going to know it. He will see to it.

The key here is this: We must not take OWNERSHIP over a promise of God. No. In fact, this is much of what it means to be brought to where we see we are ZERO. So often we grab onto a promise of God, and even if we donít try to bring it to pass outwardly, we do try to force God to bring it to pass. We argue with Him, or try to figure out how to get Him moving. But we cannot take a promise of God and hold Him hostage with it, and make demands that He keep it. We cannot. The promise is HIS Ė for His glory and our benefit. He will bring it to pass.

Like it or not, fundamental to being brought to ZERO is that we relinquish all ownership over a promise of God. Abraham birthed Isaac and EVEN THEN had to give him back to God! Abraham was not to take ownership over a FULFILLED promise. How much less a yet-to-be fulfilled one!

The fact is, if we relinquish ownership over a promise of God, then if it wasnít really a promise of God, this will be the first step to finding that out. And if it was a promise of God, well, it is still Godís promise. He will bring it to pass.

A good example of this in the Bible are the apostles. They completely misinterpreted Jesus Christ. They thought He was going to set up an earthly kingdom, with them at His side. When He was crucified, it finally hit home with them Ė they were wrong! I donít know if we can imagine how devastating this was! They had seen Him raise the dead, work many miracles, some had even seen Him transfigured, and they had confessed Him to be the Christ. He told them they were RIGHT! He was the Christ. And then He was taken away and crucified. How could this be?

It could be because they were not able to see the Truth. Thus, they interpreted Him through natural thinking, expectations, and of course, hopes. But what they did in response to the devastation of their hopes holds the key for US. Instead of blaming God and losing faith, they turned to God Ė symbolized by their trip to Galilee. And as a result, they came into all the God really had for them.

What this teaches us is that even if we misinterpret God, that He nevertheless has a will for us. It may not be the one we originally thought or hoped. But God knows that by the time He is done with us, our thoughts and hopes will be changed. Thus, not only will we come into the real purpose of God for us, but we will rejoice that it is THIS, and not THAT.

This example of the apostles is a good one because it directly teaches us that Godís will for us is not THINGS, circumstances, or a certain lot in life. God cares about that, of course, and they will come in as it serves His real purpose. But Godís real purpose for us is CHRIST IN US Ė and knowing HIM. Everything works unto this end. If God has a promise for us, it will fit into this perfectly. If we have misinterpreted God, He will bring us around to where we will be set free from our blindness and see the Truth. This happened with the apostles Ė they never cared about an earthly kingdom again. They had the King living IN THEM. That was much better.

So the bottom line is this: If you think you have a promise of God, surrender ownership over it. Trust God. If you do that, then even if you are mistaken, God will be able to set you free from your mistake and bring His real will to pass in you and for you. And if you surrender ownership, and have actually received a promise, then you will be fit to receive it from the hand of God.

You and I must come to the place where we trust that God knows what we donít know. And we must trust that if we are wrong about something, that God knows that as well. We must stop walking around in fear that we are going to misinterpret God. For what more can we do than keep our hearts open to Him, surrender ownership to Him, obey Him the best we know, and continue in prayer? And if we do that, any mistake God allows us to make will be for our good. It will be part of what is necessary to make of us a zero person.

It is much better to trust God in this way than to, "hide our talent in the ground." We must come to the place where we trust God to show us what He wants us to know, when we need to know it. What? How ELSE are we going to know it? Do we think we have some resource of Truth in OURSELVES that we can call upon in these matters? No. Trust God. And walk. And let Him do what He wants, and let Him allow what He wants. He is our Father, and knows what kind of discipline and training we need.

Despite the fact that Abram launched out in his natural strength, and tried to bring to pass Godís promise, it all came to nothing. But guess what? God got His way in the end despite it all. By the time God was done with Abram, he became Abraham. And then Abraham knew that it was NOT Godís will for him to birth Ishmael. God wanted Isaac Ė through Sarah. And guess what? Abraham did too! He was glad that God did not affirm Abramís own way.

Faithfulness

Godís goal is not simply the promise fulfilled. Rather, God wants to make US fit for the promise. We said it before: Abram received the promise and believed it. But only Abraham could see the promise come to pass. Abram must become Abraham, just as Jacob must become Israel. And we become that when we come to see we are ZERO and God is everything.

There is a little secret in all of this. So often we think being brought to ZERO is such a negative thing. A sob story. A pity party. But no. Just as being brought to ZERO is the doorway to receiving the fulfillment of the promise, it is also the condition out of which we can come to see the fullness of God Himself.

Seeing God will reduce me to ZERO. But it is only at, "ground zero," that I see that God is everything.

All that we have been talking about, in the final analysis, is not about receiving a THING called a promise. No. The promise may be important. But all of this is really about receiving God Himself. Why did Abram become Abraham? Simply because he believed a promise? No. Because he trusted and believed God Himself.

God is after a relationship with Himself. And He will use all of these things to establish it and edify it.

Now, what this means from a practical standpoint is that God is not normally going to give us things, and fulfill for us promises, unless we are able to be trusted with them. In short, God must often first make us faithful before He can give us something over which to BE faithful.

This again is why we must be brought to ZERO. Funny about someone who has truly been brought to ZERO. They rejoice because they have been set free from SELF. They rejoice because they see that God is everything. They know that this is not just about what THEY will get, but about Godís glory. There is a great reverence that comes for God when you are brought to ZERO. And because of that, God can add to you what He wants to add.

God cannot add much to us if we are not ZERO. This is because we wonít value Him, or it. How could we value God or what He gives us? We donít know we are ZERO. We arenít needy enough. But once a person is shown He is a ZERO in the light of Jesus Christ, God can ADD to them much. They can be trusted.

This is precisely why teachings such as the Word of Faith heresy are error. This teaching offers a system whereby we can obtain things from God to the complete disregard of whether we are in a properly adjusted relationship with God. We can obtain money from God even if we are in bondage to the love of money. We can bring in the kingdom of God although we are still sitting on the throne of our own lives. You rarely ever hear Word of Faith preachers talk about the work of the Cross, or the inner work of the Holy Spirit. To them, you have authority in Christ. And you can use it to get things.

The Truth is, you and I have NO authority in Christ Ė none that has any power to it Ė unless we are first made WEAK in ourselves. The authority of Jesus functions only through ZERO people because only ZERO people wonít use it to their own glory. Only ZERO people can be trusted with it. Only to the extent that Jesus is Lord OVER ME does His authority work through me.

Jesus continually said, "He that is faithful over little, will be faithful over much." Often, the, "little," over which we must be faithful is simply our relationship with Christ, right where we are, in our present situation. Can we be faithful to God by surrendering our self-ownership? Can we be faithful by then allowing Jesus to be Lord IN ME, and OVER ME, in that situation? If I canít do that, then Iím not going to be faithful over much. And God cannot trust me. I would either abort His glory, or do myself harm Ė with the very things of God.

As it pertains to the promises of God, can I be faithful to surrender to God ownership over the promise? Can I be faithful to God by handing myself over to Him so that I will be made a ZERO person? If I can, then perhaps I can have a name change like Abram. I will have been made fit for the promise.

Faithfulness means I do not take personal ownership over what God gives me Ė because I now they belong to Him. This starts with not taking ownership over ME. It certainly applies to the promises I believe God has given me.

Godís Purpose

Hopefully, we have seen why God must reduce us to ZERO before He brings to pass His word in our lives. It is because His word can be brought to pass only in ZERO people. Only they will be faithful with the fulfilled word, because they have been faithful to be brought to ZERO. Only they are now fit to receive all that God wants to give.

God must also reduce us so that He will receive all the glory. It isnít that God is selfish, mind you, but rather, it is that He deserves all the glory. He really IS Him doing it all. Much of the difficulty is getting us to the place where we see we are ZERO.

Perhaps the greatest irony in the Christian walk is the fact that God wants to reduce us to ZERO so that He can be everything to us, and give us everything He has for us. And yet, due to ignorance, and the nature of things, we fight tooth and nail to avoid that very thing. We are our own worst enemy. God wants to bless, but because we try to wrest the blessing from His hand through natural means, He cannot. We still have a ways to go to get to ZERO.

God has a will. And He wants to bring to pass His will. But not just as a THING He does. God wants us to BECOME His will. And for that to be possible, He must take a people who think they are something, and show them they are NOTHING Ė He must show them this by showing them JESUS is everything. This is a miracle, and perhaps the fulfillment of the greatest promise, and impossible situation, of all.

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