"But seek ye first the kingdom
of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto
- Matthew 6:33
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8
"And I say unto you, Ask,
and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall
be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that
seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
- Luke 11:9-10
"But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you." - Luke 12:31
"Strive to enter in at the
strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall
not be able."
- Luke 13:24
"That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." - Acts 15:17
"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:" - Acts 17:27
"But without faith [it is]
impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that
he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
- Hebrews 11:6
In the above verses
we see the words of Jesus and the Apostles, James and Paul. They
all tell us that a person is to seek if they hope to find God, and
that they will be rewarded for their efforts if they do so. These
people will find God and be found of God.
But how do we know that a person is a seeker? And how does an individual know if they are really seeking in the proper manner? Some in our day and time believe that to simply show an interest in spiritual things is a certain sign of one seeking God. But Jesus proved that this is not so in John 6:26, where he says to those who were supposedly seekers, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." A person may seem to be interested in the things of God, yet they may well have a wrong motivation. There may be a selfish reason for this supposed interest. Some believe that it is outward manifestations, such as weeping, or coming to an altar as a response to an 'invitation,' that indicate a person is seeking. But Paul gives evidence that outward fleshly manifestations may be misleading. He says in II Corinthians 7:10, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." The clear implication here is that a person may exhibit signs of sorrow, and may even be motivated to respond to a plea to make a 'decision' as a result of it. But if the condition of that person is not discerned properly, they may be given a false hope of salvation. This is why many who have been dealt with at altars are nowhere to be found today. What they received did not keep them going in the way of truth as they did not have sorrow leading to repentance and faith.
Now we know that if a person becomes a seeker it is because God has put it in them to do so according to Philippians 2:13, where we read, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure." And if God has begun a work in an individual, there will be evidence of that work which can be pointed to. This evidence will be seen to some degree in all who are truly seeking, and who are seeking in the proper manner. This booklet is written that those who are expected to deal with these folks will be able to recognize the true seeker and wait for God to move on those who are not yet seekers. It is also written for the seekers themselves, that they may know if they are seeking properly, and thus be assured of attaining that which they desire. Paul told Timothy that a man cannot attain to a crown unless he strives lawfully. While this refers specifically to Christians in the context Paul uses it, certainly it must apply to all that deals with God. If a sinner is expected, yea, commanded to strive to enter in at the strait gate, would God honor his labor if it is contrary to God's ways? Absolutely not!
Please read this booklet with an attitude of desiring truth, rather than looking to bolster some preconceived notion picked up through the traditions and teachings of our time, or to dispute the contents found herein. May the LORD give us all eyes to see and ears to hear divine truth.
SIGNS OF A SEEKER
13. And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications [are] these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found [it] even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed [it], and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35 And they told what things [were done] in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
Above I have given
one of the best passages in the Word of God to show the certain evidences
of true seekers of God. These two men on the road to Emmaus who had
a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus are prime examples of those who
desire to find Christ achieving their purpose and arriving at faith. We
see this in verse 35, where it says He was 'known of them.'
These men had followed Christ, believing the words He had spoken.
When they saw Him crucified, it shook them and led them to question whether
they were right in doing so. Yet they were seeking to reconcile the
events that had taken place with what they had been told and had believed.
They were still seeking to find answers and faith. As a result, Jesus
came and led them to a point of enduring faith.
Let us look at the signs that indicate to one and all that a person really is seeking God. There may be more than the ones we shall deal with, but these are the most important, and are all seen in the passage above.
The first sign of a seeker is that they have come out of the world. These two individuals had followed Jesus in the way. They counted the cost and found Him worthy of it. Though they had not saving faith up to now, they had seeking faith as evidenced by their actions.
Some would have you to believe that an individual can be saved and live in disobedience for long periods of time, calling it 'backsliding,' calling them 'carnal Christians,' but here is clear evidence that one cannot even qualify as a seeker while living the same old life. One who really wants to find God will be like Ruth who was 'steadfastly minded' to follow Naomi, in Ruth 1:18. They will love the church and the man of God, who is their only hope in reaching their desired haven.
Consider Orpah, on the other hand, who wept openly and clung to Naomi for a while also, even expressing a commitment to follow, but left before finding rest in Boaz' house. Many of our preachers today would have thought Orpah ready to 'lead to the Lord,' but she would have been a tare among the wheat! She was not willing to come out of Moab, but remained there to the destruction of her soul. I would hasten to add that I am not implying that a seeker can live above sin, since they do not have the Spirit of God, but let us watch the seeker to see if there is a willingness to leave the old life behind.
Beware of the temptation to assume that an individual who has no church background, who comes in to a church service, hears one sermon, and comes to the altar during the invitation showing signs of distress or sorrow, is ready to be saved at once. He may be exhibiting sorrow of a worldly sort brought on by a guilty conscience. Though this individual may be ready to get on the narrow road leading to repentance and faith, he likely has not gotten enough information to get saved. Our churches are full of those who have changed paths, but never pushed through the strait gate.
The second evidence that a person is truly seeking God, is that they cannot be satisfied with empty religion. They will be searching for something more. Jesus asked these two on the road what it was that they were discussing that gave them no joy, but rather, caused them to be sad. It was evident from their countenances that they didn't have the joy of the Lord, though they had religion. It would appear from their response to the Lord that they were discussing how this religion was not satisfying to them. They must have been seeking answers to the circumstances which they found themselves in, and this is why Jesus appeared to them. He came to bring them to a point of understanding and faith.
Likewise, a person who is really seeking God will be doing so, in part, because they have found there can be no satisfaction in religion alone. They may be doing all the things considered right, but they are still not content. They are empty in the depths of their soul. There must be a personal encounter with the resurrected Christ before rest and peace can come.
Another indication one is seeking the Lord is that they are willing to be questioned about their beliefs and spiritual condition, and when they are, they are honest and open to the questioner. The natural tendency of man is to try to offer answers that either justify or disguise his real condition, or to offer answers that he believes the questioner will be satisfied hearing.
The two men on the road to Emmaus were honest, and said to Jesus, "...we trusted.." Notice that the word trust is in the past tense. They trusted while Jesus was with them and things were good, but it was not a God-given faith. It was superficial, fleshly, and natural. Many in our churches have this kind of faith, and are even staking their soul's destiny on this type of faith, yet it is not saving faith. It will fail in the end.
These two men also said, "...certain of our company made us astonished..." The word 'astonished' here means 'to throw out of position,' or 'to displace.' It also can mean 'to be insane.' The context then, is that they were staggered, or bewildered. It was beyond belief! What they were saying was, "We just cannot accept it as true; we have no faith in what they told us."
When an individual gets honest enough to say that they are just full of unbelief, they are becoming fit candidates for God to do a work of faith in.
Let me insert here that in many churches there are individuals who cannot admit the truth with regard to their true condition because of how they would be received. A person cannot feel free to be honest in many instances due to the knowledge that there will be an attempt to force them to make an immediate decision for Christ, and that is likely what got them to where they are in the first place. Many church members feel uncomfortable when a seeker cannot find God right away. They do not want the boat rocked. It causes them to have to admit that God is not one who can be manipulated with our plans, prayers, programs, and promise claiming techniques. Salvation is of the Lord, as Jonah found out! May God help us to make the house of God a place where folks can be open and honest before the Lord without feeling put down. May we help and encourage them in their struggle to find rest and peace.
The next sure sign that one is seeking God and in the correct way, is that they will accept reproval. The problem with many today, even so-called Christians who fill our pews, is that they will not endure reproof! Yet here were two who took open reproof from one who, at the time he did it, was to them a stranger! And what did Jesus reprove them of? It was their unbelief, as seen in verses 25 and 26. He even called them fools. Can you imagine how most folks would respond to a stranger saying such a thing? For an individual to endure reproof over their unbelief, there must be a seeking attitude, and a work of God begun in them. Let us look at what the scripture says about reproof in John 16:8. Jesus says, "And when he [the Holy Spirit - J. G.] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" Notice that this reproof is over sin. And what sin is that? Look at John 16:9, where we read, "Of sin, because they believe not on me," or, in other words, the sin of unbelief.
Further, Paul says to Timothy, in II Timothy 4:2, "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." Paul goes on to say that the time would come when folks would not endure it, but Timothy is to do it anyhow.
Show me a person will endure reproof over their lost condition and not get mad, but rather gets humble and confesses it to be the truth, and I will show you a man who by the grace of God has become a seeker. Here is one who is going contrary to his very nature and is on the narrow way, though he has not yet made it through the strait gate.
Another sign giving assurance that one is a seeker is that they are willing to listen to preaching and expounding of scripture. The two on the road listened to the entire Old Testament being opened and laid out before them. It has been said that the longest sermon on record was preached to the smallest crowd. Those who will not endure sound doctrine have heaped teachers to themselves and come up with all sorts of wrong ideas about salvation. When confronted, they may try to use personal cases to argue their point, saying, "What about so-and-so?" They may get mad enough to even say such things as, "I don't care what the Bible says." If one really wants to find God, they will be glad to listen to those who will take the time to explain the scriptures. If one is to be saved, they must have preaching and explanation, because the natural man cannot understand the things of God on their own, according to I Corinthians 2:14, where we read, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned."
The Bible tells us in Romans 10:12-15, "For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" Notice the question that asks how one can hear without a preacher. Some would argue that this verse is a rhetorical question, and not one that shows necessity, but we need only look to scripture to see that preaching is imperative for salvation. I Corinthians 1:21 says, "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Paul also states in I Corinthians 1:27, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;" Though preaching seems foolish to the natural man, this is the chosen method of God to bring one to faith.
Further evidence of the necessity of preaching is given in the account of the Ethiopian Eunuch and his encounter with Philip. In Acts 8:26-40 we have the account of his salvation.
"And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to [him], and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea."Here we see that the eunuch had a desire to know God, had traveled to the city of God, [Jerusalem], and had the scriptures, yet he asks Philip how he is going to know the truth without a man helping him. And Philip proceeds to help him by preaching to him.
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