The God Who Seeks Sinners

“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.

On Christ the Solid Rock We Stand

And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.’ ”

(Isaiah 7:9, ESV)

As the prophet Isaiah stood before the king of Judah, the circumstances were extremely dire. War was imminent and the kings of Syria and Israel were ready to snuff out Ahaz and his people. At the news, the king and his people “shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (Isaiah 7:2).

The man of God had come to bring a word from the Lord to King Ahaz: “Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands…” (Isaiah 7:4). Just as the terror Ahaz and the people felt was real, so too was the reality of the threats from these kings. The message wasn’t that Ahaz was overreacting, because he wasn’t. The message was one of faith.

The prophet Isaiah brought a word to this king that these two kings, mighty by human standards, were nothing more to God than smoldering logs in a campfire; in other words, harmless to do any damage. Both of these kings would be dead in two years. But Ahaz didn’t know this. All the evidence that he could see pointed to defeat and death. As far as the king could see with his limited understanding, destruction was the inevitable outcome. But God…

In response, the prophet spoke words of hope to the King of Judah. The threats would not stand and would never come to pass. The heads of these nations would be cut off and the people would be shattered. God himself would eliminate the danger and would rescue his people.

The question was, would the king capitalize on these words? Would King Ahaz find a firm footing on the Word of God so that he could have the peace he and his people wanted and needed? “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.

The Israelites would face many years in captivity, and they would wonder if there would ever be that peace that God promised. Many could not see it. They could not understand the coming of Immanuel and the eternal peace that he would offer through his sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection. The could not see that the final King David, of the tribe of Judah, will come and restore everything once again and establish eternal peace. But some did see it through eyes of faith, and looked forward to the coming of the Promised One. And in these promises they found hope and peace.

Today, I hear and see many Christians clamoring for hope when hope is right in front of them. They are scared–scared of a virus, scared of riots, scared of political winds changing to more radicalism, scared of losing everything. “If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.

Do you want peace? “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Isaiah 26:3–4, ESV) Put your trust in Jesus Christ–the wind and wave stiller, the sickness healer, the serpant crusher, the death destroyer, the sin forgiver, the gift giver, the life restorer, the only-wise King eternal.

Only Jesus Christ will stand. All other ground is sinking sand.