The Human Zero and the Divine One

Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We must recognize the principle of human inability and divine omnipotence if we are to be useful in God’s hands.

As I was pondering personal salvation and the work of saving souls, I remembered what a man of God once said, “I am only a zero. But when God puts His mighty One in front of it, I become a ten.”

This is the truth. If we human beings want to act in our own strength and wisdom, then in matters of the Kingdom of God we have only negative value. What comes from us is nothing in the spiritual realm. But in His Son, God has placed an almighty Something through which He can make something out of our nothingness. Jesus Christ became for us from God “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). It is only through His work in and through us that fruit for eternity can come forth.

The thought that man is a zero, as he is in himself, is quite biblical and agrees with the experience of all proven men of God. In Jesus’ discourse of the vine and the branches in John 15, where He particularly expresses this truth, He says, “Without Me you can do nothing” (verse 5). Here He presents all His followers in their work as a powerless nothing if He does not create it in them. 

Earlier, Jesus had spoken to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Jesus referred to the natural birth as being born in the flesh. Out of this nature only carnal things such as vanity and corruption can emerge. This also includes all-natural reason, wisdom, power, and beauty in itself. Only what arises from the work of God’s Spirit is spirit and remains for eternity.

The testimony of all the apostles also agrees with this. They recognized and experienced it. In the Epistle to the Philippians, Paul enumerates the shining advantages of which he could once boast as an Israelite in his natural state. And then he says of them, “I…count them as rubbish, that I might gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). He totally considered himself and his earthly wisdom to be nothing and a zero in the kingdom of God, which is evident from the biblical passages in which he speaks about his work. To the Romans he writes in the 15th chapter: “Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus, in the things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed, to make the Gentiles obedient” (verses 17-18). And in 1 Corinthians 2:2-5, he writes, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ alone, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

Paul – a zero – but connected with Him, the Divine One! Therein lies the secret of his wonderful life and work, his deep knowledge, his fiery zeal, his mighty testimony, his almost superhuman endurance, and his triumphant confidence. For just as surely as he recognized himself as nothing, he also grasped in faith the truth that God had given Himself fully to His children in Christ. He could proclaim, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

This is the correct standing of man in relation to God in terms of his salvation, as well as his work in the kingdom of God. “To be nothing and become nothing,” as people sometimes say, is not the right attitude. No, man must come to the realization that he is nothing in himself. But through total surrender to his Almighty God and being filled with the Holy Spirit, he can become a useful tool for God. This is God’s will.

The fact that this truth is often not quite recognized is one of the main weaknesses of Christianity today. The Lord says to the church at Laodicea: “You say, ‘I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing’ – and do know not that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). But He also urges, “Therefore be zealous and repent” (verse 19). 

God wants each individual to come into the right relationship with Him. Whoever seriously examines himself in the light of God’s Word will soon know how he stands before God. God will not leave him in uncertainty about what he must do. If we are where God wants us to be, He will also use us for His glory and for the furthering of His work, as well as for the salvation and welfare of dear souls. If we want God to use us in His Kingdom, we must always remember that we are dealing with God’s work and not with man’s work. I am a zero, but God is the almighty God – He is the almighty One! He works how and when He wants. We human beings cannot tell Him what to do. Our business is to acknowledge our nothingness and let His great power and grace bring us into the right position before Him. Then we can speak with Elijah: “The Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand” (1 Kings 17:1). Before such a powerful word, not an Ahab and not a Jezebel and not an array of armies could do anything.

Tell me, dear reader, have you realized that you are a zero before God?

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