God’s strength is real, and he provides it to those who need it, said trustee and pastor H.B. Charles during an October 10 chapel message during Heritage Week at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“God’s strength is real, available, and sufficient. One who follows Jesus truly has ambidextrous faith,” said Charles, pastor of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. “They can take trouble on one hand and blessings in the other hand and hold the two in tension — trusting that all things really do work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose. God will give you strength if you trust him in your time of weakness.”
Preaching from Isaiah 40:27-31, Charles pointed students back to divine promises that nourish the believer through difficult circumstances and supply strength to those who trust God and wait for him. All it takes to receive God’s strength is to wait, hold fast, and trust him. Contrary to a popular but unbiblical phrase, Charles said: “God helps those who can’t help themselves.”
The context of Isaiah 40 assumes that the armies of Israel have been defeated, the temple has been destroyed, and the people are despairing, Charles observed. Just as the Israelites used this passage to look forward to a coming messiah, Christians should use it to look forward to his return. They shouldn’t turn to human help when they are in need, because they will inevitably be disappointed. Only God is reliable when believers confront earthly troubles.
“You think you can trust in people for your times of weakness, but whatever your problem is — let me just warn you — it better not be too big, it better not last too long, and definitely it better not cost too much,” Charles said. “Human resources inevitably run out. But consider this about our God: He never fails.”
Eventually, worldly solutions to eternal problems will fail, Charles said. While people can provide temporary relief to a problem, they will never be able to fix it the way the Lord does.
“God is not bound by a world of clocks and calendars and day timers and schedules — God lives in one eternal now,” he said. “In eternity past, God was God all by himself. When this hiccup of eternity called ‘time’ has been completed, God will still be God alone in eternity future. He is from everlasting to everlasting.”
Charles said the theological point about God’s eternal being is meant to make a practical point: Because God is eternal, his timing is perfect and believers can trust him at all times and in all places — and that shouldn’t be too difficult for Christians to believe.
“If you truly believe the first verse of the Bible, you won’t have a problem believing the rest of the Bible,” he said, driving home the point about God’s truthworthiness. “When Scripture declares God as creator, there is a theological assumption — namely that the one who creates a thing is greater than the thing he creates. He reigns over it.”
Charles is a recently appointed trustee of Southern Seminary and in June was voted the first black president of the SBC Pastor’s Conference, which takes place before the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting. He took his first pastorate over his late father’s church, Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, California, at 17. He is the author of On Preaching and It Happens After Prayer.
Audio and video of the chapel are available at equip.sbts.edu/chapel.