“I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that was not called by my name. (Isaiah 65:1 (ESV))
In considering the saving power of God, many have struggled with the conundrum of the sovereign acts of God in salvation versus the need for men to call out to God in order to be saved. This issue has shown up most clearly in the American Evangelical church as the Seeker-sensitive Movement.
The Seeker Sensitive Church may be a twentieth century phenomenon in regard to the trappings of style and function, but its roots run all the way back to the revivalistic theology and camp-style meetings of men like Charles Finney and his ”new measures.” Not only were Finney’s practices firmly planted in Arminian practice, his theology went beyond classical Arminian theology and fully embraced the heresy of Pelagianism.
The theological underpinnings of these movements (Seeker-sensitive churches, Finney-like practices, Arminianism/Semi-Pelagianism, and Pelagianism) all place major emphasis upon the idea that the makeup of human reasoning and ability in making moral choices is either totally free from any effect of the Fall (Pelagianism) or only minimally effected (Semi-Pelagianism, et. al.). This important starting point understands and teaches that man is completely and totally capable of making a decision for or against the free offer of the gospel without the direct intervention of the Spirit of God. It is a free moral choice that he is fully capable of making.
Although the idea of man being a free moral agent is a great theological discussion to have, I’ll need to do that at another time. Instead, I want to address the subject of Isaiah 65:1 above. This verse looks at the salvation from God’s point of view. The Apostle Paul referred to this text in Romans 10:20 in reference to the salvation of the Gentiles, “the nation” not called by the name of the Lord.
It is helpful to note that in the larger context of Isaiah, the Lord is described as being willing to receive those who are broken-hearted and contrite. Israel had remained hard-hearted and stiff-necked. She had refused His many appeals and would find herself in exile for her sins. And yet, God had been patient and waited for her to return. As a matter of fact, throughout the book of Isaiah, the Lord repeatedly reaffirms His need to bring His hand of judgment upon Israel while also comforting His people with the fact that although He was angry, He would not be angry forever, and that He would never forsake His Beloved.
So, as the Lord speaks in Isaiah 65:1, He addressed these foreigners who are not Israel. They may not be asking for Him and they may not be seeking Him, but the Lord is portrayed as stating “Here I am, Here I am.” Our God does not hide, He does not obscure Himself or His free offer of salvation.
The problem is that men do not seek Him. They are blinded by their sin, warped in their thinking, devoted to their iniquity, and love the darkness rather than the light. But as John reminds us, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5 (ESV)). We may not seek God, but it is good to know that God seeks sinners that He might bring them to salvation.
It is good to know that God can take the hard heart of stone and turn it soft. He can open blind eyes so that we can see the loveliness of Christ and the filth of our own sin. And it is an anchor to the soul to know that my salvation is not secured by my righteousness, but by the righteousness of Christ and His death upon the cross for me. I may fall a thousand times, but Christ will hold me fast. “Here I am. Here I am,” he says. May we take comfort in our great God and Savior’s words.