Jewels from Romans #7

Romans 3:10-18

10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes
.” (ESV)

How is it that Paul can say that no one seeks for God? I think first we must realize the context. No one seeks after God of their own free will. When we look around, we think we see many people seeking after God. We see them gazing into crystals, chanting, bowing down in front of gold idols. This is not seeking after God. This is seeking after spirituality. There is a difference.

French mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) is quoted as saying “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Many people assume that this quote means that people are continually seeking to fill this “vacuum” by searching for God. The truth is, people are seeking to fill this vacuum with anything and everything except God. But the problem is that Blaise Pascal never said this quote. It is someone’s paraphrase of much more insightful quote which Pascal did say:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself”

What Pascal was saying is that man lost the only source of true happiness in the fall of Adam, and there is nothing but an emptiness left where there once was eternal bliss. Now man attempts to fill this emptiness from what is around him, but finds nothing that is of any help in the here and now, because the only solution is an infinite and unchangeable God.

So, if no man seeks after God, why do we have seeker-friendly church services? Good question. What we find in the Bible is that it is not man who seeks after God, it is God who seeks after man. What I consider to be the key verse of the book of Luke says “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 ESV) God knows that nobody will seek after Him, that is why He sent His Son to find those of His sheep that are lost and return them to their proper place in the fold (see Luke 15:1-7).

There are other passages in the Bible which make this point in different ways. In the book of John, God is pictured as one who must take an active role in drawing men unto Himself. No one seeks after God unless God Himself draws that individual unto Himself. Jesus tells us in John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (ESV) The book of Romans, the book of Luke, and the book of John are in complete agreement on this matter. No one has either the desire or the ability to seek after God unless and until God Himself purposes to draw that individual unto Himself.

And how is an individual drawn to God? Jesus says in John 12:32 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (ESV) This is a reference to the crucifixion of Jesus. The method God uses to call out a people unto Himself is through the death of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus tells Nicodemus the same thing in John 3:14-15 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” (ESV) I like to think that this also has a fulfillment in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we lift up Jesus for all men to see in our proclamation of the gospel message, we are giving an opportunity for all men to see Jesus lifted up on the cross once again. We are told in 1 Corinthians 1:21 “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” (ESV)

The death of Jesus Christ was not one option among many choices available to God to draw men unto Himself. For in order to draw men unto Himself, men first must be made acceptable to be received by God. We are told in

Romans 3:23-26

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
(ESV)

So what do we make of verses in the Bible like Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (ESV) Is this truly an open invitation to all to accept the gift of eternal life? Yes it is. But this verse says “let the one who desires…” I thought no one had a desire for God within them. It seems ridiculous for God to invite the one who desires when no one desires. There is a story that is told of a gold bar that Fort Knox sent on tour one time. This gold bar was specially made, shaped with a flat bottom and rounded top edges, and weighing about 70 pounds. The challenge was to pick up the bar with one hand without sliding the bar off of the table. If you could pick it up, you could have it. Of course, no one could pick it up. Is the offer of God given in Revelation 22:17 like this Fort Knox contest? No, because it is God Himself who gives men the desire to seek him. And those whom God gives this desire will be drawn unto eternal life though the beauty of the death and resurrection of God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. If today, you hear the Spirit say “Come”, and you hear the true Church saying “Come”, then do not harden your heart and remain in your rebellion against God (see Hebrews 3:15). Respond to the invitation and find that it is God who is irresistibly drawing you unto Himself.

By Berean Husband

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