Let Go and Let God?

Question
Is "let go and let God" biblical? I sit here waiting on God and nothing ever changes.
Answer
“Let go and let God” circulates around the church and the internet like it was as authoritative as Scripture. Of course it’s dangerous to treat a slogan as Scripture, but why especially so in this case?

First, we – meaning you and I – don’t let God do anything. God is sovereign and he will do whatever he pleases. He doesn’t need to consult us. He doesn’t need our permission or our “letting.” God is sovereign over all the earth. He is sovereign over all of everything created: every person, event, moment in time, even over such miracles as the time of the cross. He does everything he pleases (Exod. 15:18; 1 Chron. 29:11-12; 2 Chron. 20:6; Psa. 22:28). While retaining the right to control all things, God actually and actively ordains and brings to pass everything that takes place in the entire universe (Deut. 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:6-8; Job 9:12; 12:6-10; Psa. 33:11; 115:3; 135:6; Isa. 14:24; 45:7; Acts 15:17-18; Eph. 1:11). He controls the simple roll of dice (Prov. 16:33) as well as the greatest events of earth's history (e.g. Isa. 45:1-4). He is brings all things to pass according to his will. He governs and superintends "coincidental" happenings (1 Kings 22:20, 34, 37), the wicked actions of men (Gen. 45:5; 50:20; Exod. 4:21; Judges 14:1-4; Psa. 76:10; Prov. 16:4; 21:1; Isa. 44:28; Amos 3:6; Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28), the good deeds of men (John 15:16; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:12-13), the actions of both evil spirits and good angels (1 Sam. 16:14-16; 1 Kings 22:19-23; 1 Chron. 21:1; 2 Sam. 24:1; Psa. 103:20-21; 104:4), the habits of animals (Num. 22:28; 1 Kings 17:4; Psa. 29:9; Jer. 8:7; Ezek. 32:4; Dan. 6:22), and the operations of all creation (Gen. 8:22; Psa. 104:5-10, 13-14, 19-20; Mark 4:39).

Indeed, God is absolutely sovereign over all. We don’t let him do anything at all. So, the very first and fourth words of the slogan are in error and make the whole thought rather ludicrous.

Second, the slogan has its roots in what is called Keswick theology [1]. This theological system assumes that Christians essentially have two experiences: regeneration and then a second blessing of a higher life experience through surrender and faith, or "letting go and letting God." Keswick theology fails to recognize that all Christians are both justified and being sanctified, are spiritual, are Spirit-baptized, are Spirit-filled to various degrees, and abide in Christ to various degrees (No Quick Fix, by Andrew Naselli). One doesn’t need a second blessing to get what they already have in Christ alone. As Peter wrote, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3).

Third, while God is absolutely sovereign, he doesn’t mean for us to sit around and do nothing about problems. That is "letting go" too far. Genuine faith is an active faith. Rather than letting go, faith continually grasps onto God and his ways and word. It acts. God makes use of secondary means like prayer, praise, his Word, godly wisdom, fellowship with others, and faithful activity, etc. (see WCF, V.3). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). So, God’s command is not to let go but to continually grasp (cf. Isa. 45:22; Heb. 12:2). The more one grasps onto God, the more they let go of their personal crutches in this life. And this continual grasping only happens by grace — “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

Quick fix slogans should never be substituted for Scripture, and the “Let Go and Let God” slogan is bad theology that can be horribly misleading for living one’s life. So, as God works in your life, let go of the slogan and grasp onto God, and grasp him continually.

Just as a reminder, as Christians, God already has us in his grasp and will never let us go (John 10:28, 29; cf. John 6:37, 39).

Note

[1] Proponents of Keswick theology include: Amy Carmichael, Charles Finney, Frances Havergal, Evan H. Hopkins, Robert C. McQuilkin, F. B. Meyer, H. Moule, Andrew Murray, Hannah Whitall Smith, J. Hudson Taylor, W. H. Griffith Thomas, and John Wesley. Many have been influenced by it including, Lewis Chafer, D. L. Moody, Charles Ryrie, A. B. Simpson, and R. A. Torrey.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).