3. Extra

So far, we’ve seen that God has not revealed himself equally to all people, but he has revealed himself enough. Here, we will see that God reveals himself extra to those who seek to know him.

My wife is a clear example of this. She writes,

When I think about my story, I think of Ecclesiastes 3:11, “God planted eternity in their heart.” When I was seven years old, I had a habit of wandering around places that little kids shouldn’t go by themselves. I often took my sister’s bike to go to the rainforest. As I made many trips to the rainforest by myself, I started to have a sense that there must be something bigger out there: a Creator.

Back then, my city was undeveloped by Western standards, and at night, you could see all of the stars clearly. On most nights, my sister and I looked out at the stars, while we waited for my mom to come home from work. As we lay on the hammock one night, I remember telling my sister, “There must be something bigger out there, and I want to know what it is.”

God took me seriously, when I said “I want to know what it is,” because one year later (1992), I met Christ at a refugee camp in Palawan in the Philippines. Like I said earlier, I used to wander around. This time, I wandered myself into a church! The first time I went to church, I saw the leaders passing out bibles to kids. I asked a person how I could get one. One of the missionaries told me that I needed to memorize twelve verses and speak them out loud.

There was one verse that stood out to me the most: John 3:16. It said that “God so loved the world.” This meant that God loved the world he had created. A week later, the church showed “The Jesus Film” outside on a projector. In the movie, Jesus quoted John 3:16. That was when I made the connection between God, the world, and Jesus. I believed that Jesus died for me right there on the grass. I guess that I was very happy afterward, because I remember walking home after watching the movie singing John 3:16 out loud. I was singing, because I found the God that I had been considering for two years. God really did put eternity in my heart before I knew Christ!

The Bible speaks to this subject often. David writes to Solomon, “If you seek Him, He will let you find Him” (1 Chron. 28:9 NASB). The psalmist writes, “For You, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You” (Ps. 9:10 NASB). Regarding the nation of Israel, Jeremiah writes, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13 NASB). Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Mt. 7:7-8 NASB; see also Acts 17:27; Jn. 12:32).

Cornelius was seeking for God –even though he hadn’t heard of Christ. Because he was seeking, he was given a supernatural dream from an angel, who sent him to Peter (Acts 10:3). Later, he came to faith in Christ. In reflecting on these events, Peter said, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. 35 In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35 NLT). In another instance, a man travelling from Africa is trying to understand the Bible, when God “spoke” to Phillip, telling him to talk to the man (Acts 8:29).[1] In this case, God sent the right person to talk to a guy, who was seeking him.

Anthropologist Don Richardson documents several stories of supernatural occurrences, where isolated people groups were supernaturally reached by God. While Richardson documents a multitude of examples, three will suffice:

1. The Incas (South America): Pachacuti (the king of the Incas from 1438 to 1471 C.E.) openly questioned whether Inti (the sun god) was truly divine. King Pachacuti reasoned that the sun followed the same path every day, preformed the same tasks, and hid behind clouds. He concluded that a divine being would not be hidden by clouds or follow the same path every day (“no mere created thing could dim his light”).[2] Pachacuti led a reform, which changed Incan worship to Viracocha (the omnipotent Creator of all things). Richardson writes, “A God who created all things, Pachacuti concluded, deserves worship! And it would be inconsistent at the same time to worship part of His creation as if it were Him!”[3] Within a century of his reign, Spanish conquistadores obliterated the royal family. Thus, Pachacuti’s reform is seldom known.

2. The Santal (Calcutta, India): After missionaries gave the gospel to the Santal, a number of sages exclaimed, “What this stranger is saying must mean that Thakur Jiu [translated “The Genuine God”] has not forgotten us after all this time!”[4] According to the Santal, the Genuine God created the first man and woman, but they were enticed by a demonic figure to deny the Genuine God by making an offering to Satan. After they denied the Genuine God, they realized that they were naked and ashamed. The Genuine God bid humanity to return to him, but people became increasingly depraved. As a result, the Genuine God flooded the entire earth, rescuing a “holy pair.” After the flood, the Genuine God scattered the people into many nations. The Santal lost their faith in the Genuine God, because they bound themselves in an oath to demonic spirits in the mountains in return for protection. The Santal claimed, “After finding other gods, day by day we forgot [the Genuine God] more and more until only his name remained… It is said by some… that the sun god is [the Genuine God]. Therefore, when there are religious ceremonies… [some people] look up to the sun… and speak unto [the Genuine God]. But the forefathers taught us that [the Genuine God] is distinct. He is not to be seen with fleshly eyes, but he sees all. He has created all things. He has set everything in its place, and he nourishes all, great and small.”[5] As a result of missionary involvement in this community, roughly a 100,000 of these people came to faith in Jesus Christ. They saw Christ as the solution to their separation with the Genuine God.

3. The Gedeo (Ethiopia): These people believed in Magano –the omnipotent Creator. Even though they believed in Magano, the Gedeo offered sacrifices to an evil spirit (named Sheit’an). When they were asked why they did this, the Gedeo replied, “We sacrifice to Sheit’an, not because we love him, but because we simply do not enjoy close enough ties with Magano to allow us to be done with Sheit’an!”[6] One man in the group pursued a personal response from Magano by praying that God would reveal Himself to the Gedeo people. Almost immediately, the man claimed to receive visions of two white men erecting flimsy shelters under a large sycamore tree near his hometown (Dilla). During the vision, the man heard a voice that said, “These men will bring you a message from Magano, the God you seek. Wait for them.”[7] Eight years passed. In December of 1948, two Canadian missionaries arrived at Dilla, after they had been refused permission to go to the center of the Gedeo population (Dilla was farther away). Seeking shade from the heat, the two men rested under a large sycamore tree. The Gedeo visionary walked up just as the two men were unpacking their tents! Within three decades, the Gedeo man and two missionaries planted over 200 churches –each housing 200 people!

Richardson concludes, “Incredible as it seems, literally thousands of Christian missionaries down through history have been startled by exuberant welcome even among some of earth’s remotest peoples.”[8] This confirms what the Bible teaches, when it states that God brings light to “every man” (Jn. 1:9) and that God “did not leave Himself without witness” (Acts 14:17).

Ajith Fernando describes an interesting story from J. Oswald Sanders about a missionary in Thailand.[9] In the middle of the afternoon, a woman approached a Christian missionary and said, “There is a matter which is troubling me, and I think you are the one who can help… I had a dream about a man called Jesus. Could you tell me who he is?” Fernando comments, “It is interesting that in recent years many people, especially those living in countries closed to the gospel… testify to having dreams and visions where they are confronted by Jesus.”[10] Clearly, God will reach those who seek him.

Next Page

[1] In fact, the Bible gives a number of examples of people who found God from seeking him: the Magi (Mt. 2), Enoch (Gen. 5:22), Abimelech (Gen. 20), Job, Jethro (Ex. 18:11), Naaman (2 Kings 5:15), and Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:34-37). An argument could even be made for Saul in Acts 9. He wasn’t seeking Christ, but after his encounter, he was praying (Acts 9:11), and Jesus sends Ananias to him (Acts 9:10-19).

[2] Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984. 36.

[3] Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984. 33.

[4] Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984. 42.

[5] Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984. 44.

[6] Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984. 54.

[7] Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984. 55.

[8] Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal, 1984. 56.

[9] Cited in Fernando, Ajith. Sharing the Truth in Love: How to Relate to People of Other Faiths. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 2001. 223.

[10] Fernando, Ajith. Sharing the Truth in Love: How to Relate to People of Other Faiths. Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House, 2001. 235.