The brilliant Robert Dick Wilson was professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1900 to 1929. One of his students during that time was the famous preacher-to-be, Donald Grey Barnhouse.
Twelve years after he graduated from Princeton, Barnhouse was invited back to preach in chapel. As Barnhouse stood up to preach, he noticed his old teacher sitting down near the front of the pulpit. When chapel ended, Dr. Wilson approached his student, extended his hand, and said, “If you come back again, I will not hear you preach. I only come once. I am glad that you are a big Godder. When my boys come back, I come to see if they are big Godders or little Godders, and then I know how their ministry will be.”
Not sure he understood his teacher’s words, Barnhouse asked him to explain.
“Well,” said Dr. Wilson, “Some men have a little God, and they are always in trouble with him. He can’t do any miracles. He doesn’t intervene on behalf of his people. They have a little God, and I call them little Godders. Then there are those who have a great God. He speaks and it is done. He commands and it stands fast. He knows how to show himself strong on behalf of those who fear him.”
Then Dr. Wilson paused for a moment, smiled, and said to Barnhouse, “You have a great God, and he will bless your ministry. God bless you.”
I read this story many years ago when I was just getting started as a preacher, and since then I have had a growing aspiration to be a big Godder, to truly believe in the miracle-working power and greatness of God. I cannot give you an objective report on my progress, but I would like to tell you what I know about the author of the book you are about to read.
Without reservation, I can say that J. D. Greear is a big Godder. In 2001, he became the lead pastor of what today is The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. Three hundred people were attending the church when he took over, and last year The Summit Church was the thirty-sixth largest church in America with an attendance north of ten thousand. It is also, according to Outreach Magazine, one of the fastest growing churches in America, adding over six hundred new congregants in the last year alone. Because J. D. Greear believes great things about God, he has attempted great things for God.
In this book, he teaches us that our view of God ultimately shapes what happens in our lives. In the words of A. W. Tozer, “The most portentous fact about any man is . . . what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law . . . to move toward our mental image of God.” In other words, when we imagine a little God, we assume he can only do little things.
With inspiring quotes and riveting stories, J. D. makes the biblical truths about God come alive. Beginning with the story of Moses and his encounter with God at the burning bush, we are introduced to the power, love, wisdom, and majesty of God in such a powerful way that we will want to pause periodically and worship. J. D. believes that when we see God as Moses saw him, our hearts will glow like Moses’s face did. And radical life change will be the result.
One of the great takeaways from this book is its apologetic content. In his response to those who want to make God responsible for all the tragedies in the world, J. D. writes, “In many cases, we have to live out our days not knowing the precise reason for terrible events. But the cross shows us what they cannot mean. They cannot mean that God is absent or out of control.”
Often when you hear someone say, “My God would never do that” or similar statements, they are not talking about the God of the Bible, in whose image they were created. Rather, they are talking about a god they have created for themselves. In the chapter titled “You Don’t Get Your Own Personal Jesus,” J. D. reminds us that God said, “I am who I am,” not “I am whoever you want me to be.”
The discussion of God’s wrath and his love fill the pages of the final chapters. I don’t think I turned a page without stopping to write something down that I wanted to remember. I shared some of J. D.’s insights about the crucifixion, which are found in the eleventh chapter, when I officiated at a recent communion service.
Not God Enough concludes with a call to action. In J. D.’s words, “Christianity . . . makes a terrible hobby,” and “You cannot place the sun of God’s glory into orbit in your life.” The God of the Bible demands our highest allegiance, our total adoration, and our unconditional obedience.
Twenty years ago, I went through two bouts of cancer. I ultimately had a stem cell transplant which cured me of the disease. When I came back to my pulpit after several weeks of recovery, I stood in front of the church I have now pastored for thirty-six years, and my message was simply, “God Is Enough.” This is the glorious message of this book that I have been blessed to read and honored to endorse.
J. D. Greear and David Jeremiah, Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018).
We have just released a new Bible Study based on J.D. Greear’s newest book, Not God Enough. These lessons are available on Amazon, as we as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.