"SEEKING THE LORD"
A sermon preached on May 2, 2010
According to the Apostle Paul, there is one attainment that constantly stands over the heart of each and every Christian. Do you know what the one over-arching goal for each and every Believer is? Galatians 4:19 “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,..." You can see three very wonderful things in these words.
One, you can see that Paul was deeply concerned for the Galatian Christians. He even compares his concern for them to the pain of child birth.
Two, he knew God's goal for their lives was that Christ would be, not just their Savior, but the One Who was being formed in their character. They, like us, were becoming like Jesus. The third thing you can see here is that none of us has arrived; but we are truly on the way to becoming just like Jesus in our attitudes, our behavior, and our speech. Some people think that our highest attainment will be Heaven. But Heaven is a place; a place where we will reside someday if we have trusted in Jesus Christ.
The bigger and larger concern is that you become just like Jesus. What you are right now is not what you will be later on this year. What you are right now is not what you’ll be in Heaven. Believe it or not, you are right now being changed into the image of Jesus Christ. By your submissive heart, and by your yieldedness to the LORD, you are being transformed into the likeness of Someone else. II Corinthians 3:18 says “ But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” And again from the words of the Apostle Paul Romans 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Haven’t you often wondered what God’s will is for you? God’s will is that you become like Christ. I’ve sometimes heard this from people who have lived through some harrowing event. “I don’t know why God left me here. But I’m sure He has something for me to do.” Well, for those of you who have ever wondered what God’s will is for you, here it is. God’s will is that you become like Christ. And how? How is the LORD accomplishing this in you? II Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” As you can easily see from this passage, there are two types of people on planet earth; those who know God and those who don't; those how are “in Christ” and those who are not “in Christ;" those who are new creations and those who aren’t.
When someone repents of his sin and puts his trust in Jesus Christ to save him, things change. The old passes away and everything becomes new. So, you're one or the other. You're either in Christ or outside of Him. “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for me will find it."
The way I'd like to approach today's topic of “seeking God" is by considering what the Bible says to those who haven't yet trusted in Christ and then see what it says to those who have received the LORD and are “in Christ."
1. The Bible clearly commands sinners to “seek the LORD." Isaiah 55:6 says “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” This is God's command to those who are outside of Christ. If you are outside of Christ, you must forsake your way. You must forsake even your own thoughts. And you must turn to the LORD.
For an Unbeliever, the act of seeking the LORD is simply this: “turning to the LORD.” And God’s promise is that He will have mercy on you and that He will abundantly pardon you and, in essence, remove your sins. And in Acts 16:24 we read “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (25) Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; (26) And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; (27) That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”
The basic problem with man is the sin of pride. By pride I mean this. I mean that we all have an innate tendency to think we can get along without God. We even sometimes think that we just need “a little help from God" and that’s what will get us on the right track in life. If there is one thing that will matter most when it comes to seeking God, it's this. Every heart that truly seeks the LORD must, at some time, gain a sense of complete helplessness. You see, if you have no sense of helplessness, then you can, in essence, help God save your soul.
I recently posed this question to a man who professes to be a Christian. I said “if you were to stand before God today and He were to say to you 'Why should I let you into my Heaven?’ what would you say? His answer was quite revealing. He said “I’d tell Him that I never intentionally hurt anyone and I’ve always tried to do what is right.”
I proceeded to show him that his answer tells me that he has no need for Jesus Christ. Why would anyone need Christ’s death on the Cross if God is going to take into consideration your good intentions and your attempts to do what is right? Doesn't everyone fall into that camp? So, at the root, the problem every single person has is that we don’t see ourselves as helpless when it comes to God and His salvation.
But here’s the reality. The person who realizes that he's hopeless apart from God, he’s the one who will seek Him the most. Why? Because God isn't interested in what you can bring to the table in salvation. Rather, He's interested in whether you are willing to humble yourself before Him and admit that you are a sinner, and that you are a soul deserving of spending eternity in Hell for your sins.
The sinner who sees his hopelessness without God is the sinner who is beginning to seek God. He’s turning to God. The sinner who thinks and believes that he has anything in himself that is worthy as a basis for his eternal security is the one who really doesn't need God. So, in essence, he's not helpless.
Here's what we find in the Psalms on this subject. Psalm 14:2 “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.” And here's what the Bible says God found when He looked upon the hearts of mankind. Psalm 14:3 “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
This Old English phrase “they are all gone aside" means simply this. “They are all fallen away." And this phrase “they are all together become filthy" means this. “They have all become corrupt."
Folks, the basic nature of man is a corrupt one. We are naturally sinners. And we choose sin because it's our nature and our habit to choose it.
David, who wrote this fourteenth Psalm, is describing the worldwide predicament of Adam and his descendants. And what are affects of the sin of Adam upon the human race? We, mankind as a whole, are morally bankrupt. No one needs to tell us about the effects of sin in the most upright communities in our world. We see some of the worst sins known to man in places you'd never expect it; in the homes of the affluent and the most highly educated; in the lives of the politicians; homes of doctors and lawyers and professors. Why? Because there is a universal problem we all are personally and intimately acquainted with - sin.
But because of our pride, we object to letting that truth be brought home to us. And so, we feel that if we just had “a little help from God," we'd be able to get Him to let us into His heaven.
Folks, without a sense of helplessness you will never seek the LORD. The way to seek Him as a sinner is to see yourself in need of a Savior. And that means you have to admit that you are completely helpless in the face of certain judgment. There is a judgment to come. The sooner a soul comes to grips with his helpless state before God, the sooner he comes to see that his greatest need is the work of Christ on the Cross.
The Scripture teaches us that the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:4 says “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” And Ezekiel 18:20 says “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. ...”