Home > Salvation from sin
Lassie Come Home is a classic story about a dog who becomes lost; but because of her devotion to a boy, she overcomes many obstacles to return home. Many books and movies have been based on similar themes. The Bible is also a story about searching for things that are lost.
Luke 15:3-6 – Jesus is like a shepherd seeking a lost sheep. He finds it and returns rejoicing.
Revelation 3:20 – Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
God seeks men by providing the means for us to be saved from sin. Then He sends His word to invite all men to come to Him for forgiveness.
Some people think that there is little or nothing people can do to find God and His will.
Some teach unconditional election or predestination meaning that God chooses whomever He wants to save, then He brings them to salvation regardless of their will or choice. So, either God finds you or you will simply be lost. But there is nothing you can do to find God.
Other people wonder about people where the gospel is little known. “How can people in dark Africa learn the truth and be saved?” Is God fair to condemn those who never heard the gospel?
Some members of the church wonder how they can be sure they have found the truth.
Some seem to think that whether or not we learn the truth is just a matter of chance: a roll of the dice. Some people are fortunate and happen across the truth, but others are not.
In this study, let us consider what the Bible says about seeking God and His will.
1 Chronicles 28:8,9 – Solomon was instructed to carefully seek out God’s commands. If he would seek God, God would be found by him.
Psalm 119:10,11,45 – The psalmist sought God, seeking His precepts, that he might not sin against Him. So, seeking God includes seeking to know His will so we can obey it.
God has made His will known in the Scriptures. They provide us to every good work (2 Timothy 3:16,17). God wants this message taught to everyone (Mark 16:15,16; 1 Timothy 2:4).
So, we can know the truth if we are willing to seek it by studying and learning the Scriptures. People all over the world can find God’s will, but they must be willing to seek it.
But seeking God involves more than this.
(Matthew 5:6; Proverbs 2:1-6)
We seek to know God’s will so we might obey it and be right before God.
Deuteronomy 4:29 – If Israel disobeyed God, He would send them into captivity, but from there they would seek God and find Him. So, sin results in losing fellowship with God, but seeking Him can restore fellowship.
Matthew 6:33 – Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Note the word “seek.” We must seek to be right with God as members of His kingdom.
The Scriptures say that sinners are lost in sin: they are alienated from God. They must seek God so they can learn how to be forgiven and restore their fellowship with God.
This ought to challenge those who believe no one can seek God. It should also challenge those who wonder about people who live where the gospel is hard to find. God requires those people to seek Him. Then they can have the right relationship.
(2 Chronicles 15:2,12-15; 17:3,4; Matthew 5:6; Acts 17:22-27,30,31)
When people are alienated from God, they are without God’s spiritual blessings. If we can find Him and be forgiven, then we receive all the blessings involved in being right with Him.
Psalm 105:3,4 – Seeking the Lord leads to rejoicing and strength.
Psalm 24:3-6 – Those who seek the Lord will receive blessing and righteousness (verse 5).
God has special blessings for those in His fellowship. So, seeking the Lord involves a diligent pursuit that we might know God’s will, enter into His fellowship, and receive the blessings He has for those who please Him.
When an inanimate object is lost – like a purse or a wedding ring – it can do nothing to be found. The owner must seek it. But when a person is lost, like wandering in a forest, loved ones may seek him; but he can also seek to find the way home! Likewise, lost souls are not passive and helpless. God is seeking them, but there is much they must do to seek Him!
(2 Chronicles 26:5; Jeremiah 29:13,14; Zephaniah 2:3; Matthew 7:7-11; 6:33; 13:44-46)
1 Chronicles 22:19; 28:8,9 – When Solomon became king and was preparing to build the temple, David instructed him to seek God. Even though Solomon was a servant of God, he still had to seek the Lord. Note the promise: If you seek Him, He will be found by you.
2 Chronicles 11:16 – After the division of Israel, people in Israel, who had set their hearts to seek the Lord, went to Judah to worship in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 26:4,5 – Uzzah did right and prospered as long as he sought the Lord.
Matthew 7:7-10 – Seek and you will find. Like a father gives God gifts to his children, so the heavenly Father gives good things to those who ask Him.
Seeking the Lord is not just for those who are in sin. Those who are already serving God need to continue seeking His will. Seeking the Lord is a lifetime responsibility.
But note the assurance that, if we seek God properly, we will find Him. This is not a matter of chance, speculation, or rare possibility. It is a definite promise from God.
Deuteronomy 4:25-29 – Moses warned Israel that, if they disobeyed God, He would send them into captivity. But from there they would seek God and find Him. These were people who had known God’s ways but had fallen away. They should seek the Lord so they could restore their fellowship with Him.
Psalm 78:32-34 – When the Israelites sinned, God punished them. Then they sought Him.
Amos 5:2,4,6 – Israel fell from God (verse 2), but the Lord called on her to seek Him and live.
If anyone ought to seek the Lord, it is those who have known His will and the blessings He offers but then wandered away. They need to determine to return to seek the Lord.
(2 Chronicles 14:4; 15:2,12-15; Hosea 10:12,13; 3:4,5; Zephaniah 2:2,3; Jeremiah 29:13,14)
What about the people in Africa? Can they seek the Lord and find Him?
Acts 17:22-27 – Paul preached to the heathen idol worshipers in Athens. He told them to seek the Lord that they might find Him for He is not far from each one of us.
This answers the question! Can people who not have heard the gospel find the Lord? He is not far from any person! If heathen idol worshipers can seek the Lord, surely anyone can.
Isaiah 55:5-7 – Even a nation that God does not know should seek Him while He may be found. The wicked and unrighteous man can turn to the Lord and receive mercy. What passage limits God’s promise to people of a certain nation or an arbitrary unconditional Divine choice?
Matthew 5:6 –Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be filled.
Everyone needs to seek the Lord: those who have never served Him, those who have departed from His service, or those who are faithfully serving Him.
God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34,35). He wants all to be saved (Mark 16:15,16; Titus 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:4,6; 2 Peter 3:9; Hebrews 2:9; John 3:16). He has not hidden in a corner where no one can find Him. He is actively working to find the lost. But those who desire salvation must also accept the responsibility to seek Him.
If all men can seek God, we ought to find passages telling us how. What do the Scriptures say?
Note how these passages state that God can be found if we search with the proper attitude.
Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Deuteronomy 4:29 – You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.
1 Chronicles 28:9 – Serve Him with a loyal heart and with a willing mind ... If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will cast you off forever.
Scripture repeatedly affirms that all people can find the Lord. People are lost, not because God cannot be found, but because they fail to seek His will honestly. style='font-size:9.0pt'>(Matthew 13:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
Are you seeking the Lord with an honest heart, determined to find the truth and accept it no matter what the cost?
(Psalm 119:2,10; 2 Chronicles 15:12-15; Luke 8:15)
Faith in God is essential in order for man to be saved. style='font-size:9.0pt'>(Hebrews 10:39; 11:1,4-8,17,30; Romans 1:16; 4:19-21; 5:1,2; 10:9,10,13-17; John 1:12; 3:15-18; 8:24; 20:30,31; Mark 16:15,16.)
How can a person in some remote part of the world believe that God exists? Someone may unexpectedly bring the truth to him. But if this does not happen, is he excused from responsibility?
Romans 1:20 – Since the creation of the world, God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
Psalms 19:1,4 – The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament shows His handiwork. This message can be observed throughout all the earth.
Acts 17:22-27 – Paul taught the Athenians that the existence of the true God can be known by anyone, anywhere. The heavens, the earth, and everything in nature calls out that God created them. There is simply no other reasonable explanation to the honest and open mind that really wants the truth.
Romans 1 shows that, if people do not know God exists, this is not because they do not see the evidence, but because they “suppress the truth” (verse 18) and do “not like to retain Him in their knowledge” (verse 28). They trust instead in their human wisdom (verse 22). So, they are without excuse. style='font-size:9.0pt'>(See verses 18-32.)
When people do not believe in God today, it is not because they cannot know, but because they neglect to examine the evidence or they refuse to be honest with it.
Suppose a person is convinced by the universe that there must be a God. He has an honest and open heart to receive truth. But how can he find out how to live to please God?
Acts 17:11 – The Bereans were more fair-minded in that they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. As a result, many of them believed (verse 12).
God’s will for man’s life is revealed in the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16,17). It cannot be known from nature or human wisdom (Jeremiah 10:23; Proverbs 3:5,6). When a person studies the Scriptures with a ready and fair mind, he will find the evidence that the Scriptures are from God so he can know and believe what he must do to be saved (Romans 10:17).
Psalms 119:10,11,45 – With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You! I seek Your precepts.
Seeking the Lord requires us to seek His precepts and hide them in our hearts. But how can the heathen in the dark corner of the world find the Scriptures?
Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. God wants to save every man who is willing to meet the conditions. If a man’s honest observation leads him to believe in God and hunger to be right, God will see that he finds the truth.
Proverbs 2:1-6 – But truth is not always easy to find. One must apply his heart, cry out, and search diligently as for hidden treasure. When people are convinced treasure is hidden in a field, they search diligently. If a person will search like that for spiritual truth, God promises that he will find the knowledge of God. This assures us that we can know the truth.
So why do so many people today not know God’s will for their lives? It is not because God’s will cannot be found. If people are lost, it will be because they are not sufficiently determined to study and learn God’s will, or because their hearts are not open to accept what they find there.
(1 Chronicles 28:8-9)
The person who believes in God and seeks His will with an honest heart, must then be willing to obey whatever God’s word commands him to do.
Psalms 119:2,10 – Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! With my whole heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Isaiah 55:6-7 – Seek the Lord while He may be found, let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him and abundantly pardon.
Acts 17:27,30 – After Paul told the Athenians to seek the Lord, he then instructed them that all men everywhere must repent. Those who want to be right with God must determine to turn from sin and obey Him.
So, why are there so many who do not find the Lord? It is not because truth cannot be found, nor because God has arbitrarily decided not to save people regardless of their attitudes or conduct. It is because the people themselves are not receptive to God’s call. Because they are not willing to meet the conditions.
Romans 10:6-8 – But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above), or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
(2 Chronicles 11:16; 17:4; John 7:17; Zephaniah 2:3; Psalm 24:3-6)
Note Matthew 13:44-46. Two kinds of people will receive the blessings of the kingdom. One person was looking for it diligently. Another was not looking yet he came across it. In both cases, in order to receive it, men had to be willing to sacrifice everything they had to obtain the treasure.
Imagine a group of travelers in the days of the western frontier. They travel through uncharted territory and become lost. Search parties are sent out to find them. The lost travelers fall into three categories.
(1) Some people will like the country where they roam and will decide to stay. Even if searchers find them, they are not willing to return.
(2) Some people try to survive but make no effort to find civilization. However, when the search party finds them, they are willing to return and follow the rescuers back to civilization.
(3) A third group is surviving but is also diligently seeking civilization. They try to retrace their path, try to find landmarks, send up smoke signals, blaze their path on trees, and do everything they can to help the search party find them. When the search party finds them, they eagerly follow them home.
Likewise, God seeks the salvation of all people, but people fall spiritually into all these groups. Some will not return, even when they are offered the truth, because they enjoy the territory of sin and are not willing to make the effort to return.
Others are making no effort to return, but are willing to do so when given the opportunity and shown the advantages.
Still others are actively seeking to return. They never could return were it not for the fact God is searching for them. However, God promises that these people will definitely be found.
The first group will never be saved because they refuse to leave sin. The second group might be found and saved. But God has promised that the last group most definitely will be saved.
The fact God is searching for us does not eliminate our duty to respond when we are found, nor does it eliminate the advantages of diligently seeking to find God.
Salvation is for all, but our response determines whether or not God’s grace will forgive us. Are you seeking to know God and His will? Do you study His word diligently with an honest heart? Are you willing to obey Him regardless of the cost?
(2 Chronicles 15:4; Isaiah 45:19)
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2022; gospelway.com
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.