Unbelievers Don’t Seek God

2009-08-20 2161OK, this is a hard one.  Even though it’s biblical, many contemporary Christians don’t understand this very real theological truth.

No unbeliever ever seeks God. What, you say?  How can that be!?  Isn’t that why we have seeker-friendly churches?  So that unbelievers can seek God?

What misconceptions we foster because we choose to be negligent of God’s Word!  R. C. Sproul says in his book, Knowing Scripture:Here then is the real problem of our negligence.  We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work.  Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion.  Our problem is that we are lazy.”

Our slothfulness causes lots of problems.  Isn’t that a great word?  Slothfulness.  Our slothfulness (laziness), among other things, has caused us to believe inaccuracies and then declare them to be personal, falsely-declared self truths — things which, in fact, are not truths at all.  Our laziness has caused us to make poor choices and led us down rabbit trails that have no eternal destination.

In Romans 3:10-11 we are told,  “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. In our human, earthly, un-regenerated state, none of us would seek God.  It’s simply not in our nature to do so.

2009-08-21 2295Yes, here it comes again – another Sproul quote from his book, The Soul’s Quest for God.  I’m sorry!  (Not really).  Sproul has taught me so much.  His clear cut teaching has meant a lot to me as I’ve grown to know God better and I’ve been reading a lot of him lately.  Here’s what Sproul says: “Fallen humans are not by nature seekers after God.  We are fugitives from God, fully intent upon escaping from him.”

Sproul goes on to relate that Saint Thomas Aquinas gave an answer to this preponderance.  Aquinas explained that the unbeliever desperately seeks happiness, peace of mind, meaning and significance in life, relief from guilt and a host of other things we link inseparably with God.  These are mere benefits of God.  That, however, doesn’t mean we are seeking God.

What Sproul and Aquinas are saying is that our heart desires to run from God.   We don’t necessarily want to be caught.  We seek the benefits that God offers us but without all the hassle of really knowing Him.  Since it is not our nature to seek God, until regeneration takes place, our hearts cannot understand a Holy God nor do we desire to understand Him.

Yet God desires that his people would worship Him in spirit and truth.  God desires that we grow in the knowledge of Him.  He desires that we mature and do not remain spiritual infants. God seeks such people to worship Him.  Authentic worship studies the Word of God in order to know the true God.

Psalm 119:1-12 is another beautiful example of the importance of knowing God’s Word:

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes!

2009-08-21 2336Notice in this Psalm that there is a correlation between seeking and knowing God’s word.  Seeking with one’s whole heart.  The two co-exist.  Those who love God want to know more about Him — the real Him.  Those who love God are the real seekers.

Also notice in this Psalm that the writer intensely desires to follow God, but he is not saying that he is successful at doing so.  He is merely trying to say that his human heart desires to follow the statues of God to the best of his sinful nature.   Most of us know that we do fail — and will fail.  That includes Christians.  We can be thankful that God forgives our  failed meanderings when we confess them to Him and ask forgiveness in the areas that we fail.  He is compassionate towards our plight.

It is the Christian who seeks God.  When we find Him, it is only the beginning of our journey.  In order to understand God, we must be motivated to study His word so we have an accurate portrayal of Him.  In order to seek God, we must love him.  Solomon reminds us of this in Song of Solomon 3:2, “I will seek him whom my soul loves.”

Lord, help me to love you so much that my heart desires to know you deeply.  Help me to desire the substance of the Word you have provided for me.  Help me to thirst for you.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by lamar9 on February 24, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    While i can appreciate the article for what it is, i have to disgree with you. I am a former christian, but i came out of it when i became more serious about seeking God. This was not an easy decision, but after much study, prayer, and objective thought over biblical arguments and apologetics, i decided that christianity isn’t for me. i do believe that the bible can be the word of God, but not in the dogmatic way it is taught by most churches i’ve been to. Not to say it is wrong, but just not right for me. Anway, the reason, i’m writing is because i believe you have a misconception about non christians.

    Many do actually seek God. many have tried christianity, but find it lacking. just like many people have changed religions (or their flavor of christianity) to find fulfillment in their new beliefs. i’m sure some have changed their beliefs to your way and found it fulfilling, but i’m sure some have done the opposite.

    I know that your conviction compels you to spread the good news and i do understand your passion, but it really makes me angry when christians claim that i don’t seek God or i’m trying to create an idol for myself if i don’t buy your dogma.

    I live in the bible belt and i still listen to christian radio because i like many of the teachings of the bible. i like to think and meditate on them throughout the day. but at the same time, when people claim that if i don’t accept christianity the way it’s taught, then i’m some worldly godless person. it makes me so angry that i wish i could find soemthing else, but around here, it’s either christianity or nothing….on the radio.

    i wondered why it makes me so mad. some would say it’s because i want to deny God, but i challenge you to think outside the christian box for one second to understand how i feel.

    imagine if you were a christian in a muslim country and listened to islamic radio. many of the teachings of the koran is morally sound…. stuff like loving God and loving your neighbors so forth…. but imagine, if right in the middle of a sermon or right afterwards, they said, if you don’t accept the koran as God’s only uncorrupted word, then the love of God is not in you and you are of your father satan.

    it might bother you more than you think. especially if you hear it all the time.

    i’m not asking you to compromise your beliefs, i’m just saying maybe it’s something to consider. many people have legitimate reasons for not following christianity. it might be hard for you to empathize as faith makes it almost impossible (for many) to understand any conflicting beliefs. i find that many people who really seek God are unbeleivers in christianity.

  2. Lamar

    I certainly can appreciate your struggle with Christianity, but my words stand as I’ve written them. I am sensitive to the fact that that you have decided Christianity isn’t for you. Of course, since you didn’t tell me which “version” of Christianity you are talking about, it makes it difficult to comment too deeply because there is a lot of confusion out there about “Christianity”.

    My perspective originates in the Reformed faith. Perhaps you never studied the Reformed faith. Most have not. Today’s contemporary version of Christianity, (esp. the modern evangelical, charismatic and emergent versions) definitely have issues and if you have based your understanding on that perspective, I can understand your frustration. I feel that myself. Thankfully, my frustration pointed me towards the Reformed faith, where I finally found truthful content.

    I’ll explain a bit further from this perspective. If you say you are “formerly a Christian” – then more than likely, you were never a Christian in the first place. You see, in the Reformed faith, you don’t get that choice. None of us get to choose. God chooses. God chooses those whom He will save and those whom will not be saved. Today’s evangelical circles are mostly Arminian, which is late on the timeline of Christianity — that view says you get to choose and it’s the most popular. (Why not? We all like to get our way…) But it’s not the historic view of the Christian faith.

    I’m sure that statement has ruffled your feathers about right now, but that’s not my desire. The reason you might feel that way right now is because we are always so self-focused that we only try to see from our own perspective. We only validate “our” personal perspective.

    It’s God’s perspective that matters and he clearly teaches that we, those whom he has chosen, those whom he predestined before the world was even created — by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, are the recipient of his grace and mercy and the eternal life that he has promised.

    I recommend that you read “Chosen by God” by R. C. Sproul. He can do a much more thorough job of explaining it than I can. However, nothing you or I can do — no amount of seeking or searching — no decisions you make — no amount of prayer — no amount of study –can influence whether God chooses to save you or not. It is a gift and gifts can’t be demanded or chosen.

    Most of what you have heard on Christian radio probably didn’t answer any of your questions, thus your disillusionment. I can recommend some good teachers to you. Dr. R. C. Sproul (Renewing the Mind) is the best. Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, Dr. Derek Thomas, Dr. Michael Horton (White Horse Inn), and Dr. Kim Riddlebargar are a few excellent teachers.

    Perhaps one day you will re-examine what you really know about historic Christianity. Today’s version – the version everyone hears today — is quite different.

    It’s not the goal of my blog to be confrontational with anyone because heaven knows, my own journey has been very difficult. This blog is a legacy I plan to leave to my children and if others read, that is fine. However, there are people more qualified to banter back and forth.

    I’m sorry you are angered but please understand that I don’t believe you are a “bad” person at all (as you suggested others would define you as.) There are many moral and kind people out there who do not believe in God.

    Our faith has nothing to do with our “goodness.” In fact, it has everything to do with the lack of it! It’s important to understand that all of us are “no good” from the very moment of birth. Each and every one of us are sinful the moment we are born – because of the legacy handed down to us by the fall. But redemption came through the blood of Jesus — for those whom were chosen.

    Bottom line: Truth isn’t about me or what I think it is. Truth is defined by God and a wise person doesn’t listen to himself, he listens to God’s words. I am fortunate that I happen to fit into His plan, not my own. I am fortunate that he chose me. And eternally grateful that he did so. I’m not sure my confidence in this statement could have been said before I understood Christianity from the Reformed perspective. Now…yes, I am confident….but it took a long time to get here.

    Dr. Kim Riddlebargar says on his church site, “We fear that many churches today have gone the way of the seeker-sensitive model, treading too lightly on doctrine, abandoning Christ-centered preaching, and down-playing or ignoring the sacraments and church history. Too often these gems have been traded for man-centered themes of self-love, self-improvement, and self-absorption. Worship is often reduced to entertainment. The gospel becomes too offensive or deemed too foolish to appeal to the masses, and so it goes unpreached or watered-down to become more palatable.”

    I have to wholeheartedly agree with him — and that’s why there are many like you who are frustrated with Christianity – because the true Christian faith is distorted in today’s world and is not being preached accurately. And it breaks my heart.

    Best wishes to you.

  3. Posted by lamar9 on February 25, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I was raised as a baptist. The basic or main thing we were taught is that Jesus is our Lord and savior and faith in that alone is sufficient for salvation. Of course true faith would be a precursor to righteous works and so basically faith first with works being “fruits” of our faith. It’s funny that you should say that God chooses and we don’t.

    a popular saying is to say “grace through faith.” back when i was a believer, i used to think that faith was also an act of God’s grace. as in, i only beleive(d) through the grace of God. so more accruately “faith through grace”. maybe i took it too far and began having a calvinist point of view (before i even knew what calvanisim was) in that we were predestined. but of course that opens a whole ‘nother can of worms :).

    i’m not angry with what you wrote even though i did do a double take. i did think i was saved at one time and was considering ministry in some capacity. my old preacher told me i was going to be a preacher one day and that had a lot of influence on me at one time. i listened, i studied, i prayed, but apologetic gymnastics, logic, and actually reading the whole bible for myself became my stumbling stones. ironically, i was a believer until i actually read the bible for myself. but, i guess if i was truly “saved”, by dogmatic definition, i wouldn’t have doubts today. some camps teach u can lose salvation, others say u can’t, both are biblically backed.

    its not necessary to get any deeper into MY problems with christianity, but i will say that there are many good things i got and still get from it.

  4. You are very welcome. Funny – I was also raised as a Baptist. Now, I am a Calvinist (right now loving the URCNA). There are reformed Baptists,you know, but the Baptist church I grew up in was very Arminian.

    The whole tenet of Calvinism rests on the fact that God chooses those whom will he will save. We do not get to make that choice. You may enjoy this book – I love it and it was so helpful to me during my struggle. It’s about another man’s journey into the reformed faith: An Unexpected Journey by Godfrey.

    Sometimes we can relate to the journey of another fellow person more than facts at different points in our lives. In that book you will also see a brief discussion of the reformed faith.

    I would have to say that I had to learn that Calvinism was not what the Arminians would say it is. I remember visiting a newer Arminian church (part of my journey) and hearing horrible things said about Calvinism from the pulpit! Well, it just led me to dig deeper. And he was wrong about almost every point he threw at the congregation. It’s easy to believe such distortions if one is not careful. Easy believism doesn’t help anyone.

    In Calvinism, (as represented by Calvinists, not Arminians) I have discovered a substance to my faith where I could find none before that time. I am thankful.

    The whole thing about works is where most go astray. While we were created to do good works, no work of our own can save us. For instance, I volunteer for a world poverty organization because I feel God has called me to that ministry. However, as much good as I do with that ministry, it cannot save my soul. It is an outflowing of the love of Jesus, expressed through my tiny hands. (OK, they aren’t so tiny….) Ephesians 2 is such a great chapter on works.

    And yes, I do believe we are predestined. Absolutely. It’s hard not to when you read verses like Romans 8:28-30, Eph. 1:4-11 and others.

    As you may know, Calvinism holds to these tenets:
    1. Sola Scriptura: The Scripture Alone is the Standard
    2. Soli Deo Gloria! For the Glory of God Alone
    3. Solo Christo! By Christ’s Work Alone are We Saved
    4. Sola Gratia: Salvation by Grace Alone
    5. Sola Fide: Justification by Faith Alone

    There is substance behind these words — they aren’t just coming from a pulpit-pounding person of opinions. There is scholarly substance to them, and I appreciate a scholarly approach to Christianity. It’s not that the simple-minded cannot also accept the faith, but we are encouraged to grow in our faith and not remain as infants. That’s where the meat exists. And yet, so many people never get into the meat. Sadly, our culture doesn’t help to encourage them in this way.

    Thanks for understanding the intent of my words. Anger really doesn’t help any of us to figure anything out. I pray that your journey continues (hopefully back towards God.) I truly doubt your journey was any more difficult than my own. Yet, journeys are rewarding, don’t you think? Those who really struggle — those who really desire to know truth, end up with things of value – not earthy things. I’m much more worried about those who are complacent and really don’t care about anything other than themselves 🙂

    I’ll end this with a passage that can say more than I could ever say.

    Eph 1:4 For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love.
    Eph 1:5 He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will —
    Eph 1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son.
    Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace
    Eph 1:8 that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight.
    Eph 1:9 He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,
    Eph 1:10 toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ — the things in heaven and the things on earth.
    Eph 1:11 In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will
    Eph 1:12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory.
    Eph 1:13 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation) — when you believed in Christ — you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit,
    Eph 1:14 who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

    Have a great day today!

  5. Posted by Cindy M on April 28, 2013 at 7:40 AM

    Interesting. That’s why I got away from the mainstream evangelical movement. It became centered on individual performance, like a scorecard. It became all about entertaining people with flashy bands and gimmicks. Most mainstreamers know nothing about the basic core beliefs of all Christians, including Jesus’ divine and human nature. I went back to my childhood denomination. I am ecstatic with the structure and how much more they get into the Bible. As I began to read the Bible for myself, I found that my church lines up with what it says in Scripture. I agree with all five points, especially Sola Scriptura and justification by faith. I don’t know anything about the Reformed church. Are you sure you’re not Lutherans? lol We agree with those points also.

  6. Hello Cindy — thanks for your comment! Just to let you know, I have a new blog http://www.nequienttroll.com I wanted a little more versatility with my webpage. To answer your question, I am not Lutheran. I belong to the URCNA (United Reformed Churches of North America.) But, it’s important to know that Lutherans and the Reformed crowd believe the same foundation of Reformed Theology, of which Covenant Theology is the foundation. We differ on some things like the sacraments and a few other areas, but the core doctrinal belief is the same. The Reformed world uses the Three Forms of Unity as their Confession/Cathechism.

    I knew nothing of the Reformed world until I began to study theology more deeply. I was raised Southern Baptist and went through several evangelical denominations, continually being frustrated that there was no doctrine present. I have found such a wonderful doctrinal home in the URCNA. Justification by faith is so, so important and it’s amazing how it has been watered down in so many churches.

    I could suggest that there are a couple of places to start if you want to know more about Reformed theology. First, listen to anything by R.C. Sproul. http://www.ligonier.org He has many free teaching series that introduce the Reformed Faith in a very easy way to understand. Click on the “free” button to find those under the teaching series heading. Then, graduate to Dr. Michael Horton. He’s much deeper but so valuable to read! You can listen to the broadcasts of the White Horse Inn http://www.whitehorseinn.org — a forum for 4 theologians/pastors who discuss theology from a reformed perspective. A Lutheran, 2 URCNA people and a Reformed Baptist. They are great! Get their magazing: Modern Reformation — the link is on the WHI site. Read the book Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology explored http://bookstore.wscal.edu/products/sacred-bond-covenant-theology-explored to understand the difference between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism. It made a HUGE difference in how I understand theology. Read the book Christless Christianity by Dr. Michael Horton. Finally, get Dr. Horton’s theology book for lay people called Pilgram Theology. Those are all great places to start.

    Feel free to come over to my Nequient troll site! Glad to meet you! btw — love your email address 😉

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