Forward & Preface
I went into the sanctury of God; then understood I their end.
Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. Thus my heart was grieved… Psalm 73: 1-28
If the church of our Lord is to ever see revival in the real sense of the word, it must not be equated with evangelistic meetings. Rather, the truths explained in this book will need to be mastered and preached.
The writer has paid his “tuition” both academically and in practical service in the kingdom. Both of these are among the necessary ingredients of a worthwhile and profound author.
It seems to have never occurred to many speakers that if we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, He must have some lovable characteristics. In this book, George Otis, Jr. restores to our great God many of His true and lovable characteristics that various modern day theological concepts have obscured.
When God said in the first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” He didn’t say, “Thou shalt not be an atheist.” There are no atheists. Man is so created that he must have, and does have, a god. Perhaps his god is family, money, liquor, fame, health, education, beauty, power or security. These are just a few of the thousands of gods available to man. Every person has a “theology” and a god. The author is trying to get us to see, worship and love the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, maker of heaven and earth and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Any other god will hurt not only ourselves, but those around us in a thousand ways.
George treats many important areas of theological thought in such a sound manner, that according to my knowledge, this book is a “must” for our time and people. His treatment of the atonement, wherein lies the real power of the gospel, is unparalleled in any other book on that subject today. His treatment of the “blood of Christ” removes it from the place of a new religious “rabbit’s foot.” This teaching may seem new to many readers, but it isn’t. It is the same view of the atonement as preached by Charles G. Finney, Berge, Barnes, Luther, Wesley, N. W. Taylor and a host of others. It merits your attention, study and meditation.
Perhaps the most mispreached and ill-taught Bible verse of our day is Isaiah 55:9. The explanation of that verse in this book is a classic gem. The removal of “holiness” from the realm of the mystical and abstract to a learned and possible state has been long overdue. The author removes “faith” as an act or state of reaching out and embracing what you don’t understand from the realm of magic. The emphasis on salvation as a right relationship or reality (instead of a technicality) is just exactly that which the blessed Holy Spirit can use to bring revival. The “forgotten doctrines,” repentance and sin, are treated in an irenic way and not neglected. Repentance is not portrayed as being optional or subsequent to salvation.
Never has there been a book more timely and needed. Yet the biggest problem most will have with this material is that they will be forced to make up their minds as to whether they want to be “right” in a revivaless age, or embrace and preach these truths and see God’s Holy Spirit lend credence to their propagation.
God has said, “Come, let us reason together.” This book is for the person who dares to think. It is my prayer that millions will accept the challenge of God through this book.
Author’s Preface to the Second Edition
An author so fortunate to compose prefatory remarks for a second edition of his or her work finds it eminently easier the second time around. The reason for this, at least in my case, is the benefit of hindsight. The author knows what the public thought of the original effort, and is thus able to reconstruct weak points while reiterating the strong ones.
If the scores of positive letters and personal encounters over the past couple of years show the broader impact of The God They Never Knew, it is encouraging evidence indeed. Not, to be sure, that some strictly amateur literary effort has attracted some small acclaim, but rather that the kernels of truth so prayerfully sown within its covers produced such desirable effects in the lives of readers. This, when all is said and done, is what really matters. For in contrast to the fixation so many of us have with methodology and technique, God’s emphasis is in change.
Perhaps some who saw the cover title of this book in its first format were surprised to find as they flipped through the pages, that the book has very little to do with the spiritual ignorance of unreached peoples around the world. In this completely revised edition we have attempted to remove even the slightest confusion by changing the cover and adding a subtitle to better suit the book’s primary thrust. The God They Never Knew: The Tragedy of Religion Without Relationship, as the new subtitle suggests, is concerned with the growing number of church men and women who indulge in formal religion without cultivating a personal relationship with the living Christ.
You may ask if such a thing is possible. Can one unknowingly belong to one religion while under the impression that he or she is part of another? Rutgers Professor David Ehrenfeld analyzes this question in his book The Arrogance of Humanism.
He answers, “If that person believes in the dogma of the former and only celebrates the latter, why not?” To whom else did Jesus direct His words in Matthew 7:21–23?
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
What was their crime? Precisely that which killed Ananias and Sapphira—they lied! They did nothing in God’s name; oh, it was on their lips, but they forgot that God looks on the heart, where He found other names. They wanted power without responsibility, and the name without the relationship.
That’s what this book is all about—a relationship. In the chapters that follow, each of the major salvation doctrines are examined through the paradigm of this all important word. Those who look for a thorough, systematic theology will be disappointed, for that is not my purpose. Rather, we seek the Jesus the church has lost in its abstract, theological theorizing, “received by tradition from our fathers.” The Jesus with whom we need a fresh and vital encounter.
Life is not a game we can play according to our own rules, for we are creatures. As creatures, we must seek our Source, recognizing that in spite for all our spiritual dialogue, service and fellowship, it is the relationship that counts. It is this relationship which must be cultivated at all costs. As C. S. Lewis put it, “We must starve eternally.”
The world still echoes Pilate’s class action question: “What is truth?” For there is an intuitive realization in the human heart that once it is found it will set us free. It remains my sincere hope that the truth in these pages will free you to worship God in a new dimension, as it has for me. It must be truth that unlocks the door of revelation, for there is no other key.
George Otis, Jr.