Sunday, 3 March 2013
There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. Romans 3:11
Real care needs to be taken when evaluating quotes in the New Testament which come from the Old. Anybody can quote anything to come to whatever conclusion they wish by tearing things out of context. This is the case with today’s verse more often than not. Paul is citing Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 which are almost a mirror of each other in their first verse.
If taken at face value, and without considering both the context and the rest of Scripture, then one might come to the conclusion that “Man in his natural state cannot seek God” or something similar to this. This is the standard conclusion of Calvinist doctrine as well as some others, especially among those who deny the free will of man in accepting or rejecting Jesus. However, this is wrong.
Taking the verse in proper context as Paul would have expected his readers to do, we see the basis for the original statement which was made by David in the psalms –
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good.
David had in mind, and was speaking of, the atheist – “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” To make an all-inclusive claim about this verse as Calvinism does is to completely tear it out of its original context. We could question, “Are Muslims seeking after God?” “Are Mormons seeking after God?” “Are Buddhists seeking after God?” The answer in each case is “Yes. They are just doing it wrong.” Further, if Calvinism were true and this were an all inclusive statement, then David couldn’t have even written the psalm because “none” would include him. Such a conclusion is entirely unsupportable by the rest of Scripture.
Enoch who is recorded in Genesis 5 “walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (v. 24). Ruth, a young girl from the pagan nation of Moab refused to be separated from her mother-in-law and stated,
“…wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” Ruth 1:16
Speaking of a time, yet future, Hosea prophesied that the Israelites who had long rejected God will search Him out in the latter days –
“Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:5
Those who seek after God, from both within the covenant people of Israel and those from without, are noted time and time again Scripture. Therefore, that this verse today is not “all inclusive” is as evident as water is wet.
Having determined this we can acknowledge that there is “none who understands” God in the fullest sense. If they did, they would be God because only God who is infinite can fully know Himself. It is also true that without His special revelation to us “there is none who seeks after God” perfectly. To perfectly seek after God would imply a perfect knowledge of how to do so. But, in His wisdom, God sent us Jesus to reveal the Father in a way which we can understand. When we look to Jesus, we see the Father (John 14:7).
By showing us who the Father is, we now have the ability to properly pursue God and to accurately understand Him as He continually, ceaselessly is revealed by the Son. It will be an eternal adventure for us if we are willing to start the trip. Jesus offers any to come unto Him and when they do the journey begins. It is not forced upon us, nor are we first “regenerated” in order to accept the offer as those who deny free will must claim. Rather, we are given the free-will to choose and the mental faculties to make the choice.
Life Application: The fact that God already knows what we will choose in no way negates our responsibility in the matter. Don’t be the fool David wrote about and whom Paul analyzes in today’s verse. Rather, think it through and understand that God has given us all we need in order to make the right decision. Now it is up to each of us to do so. Choose life. Choose Jesus.
Lord, Your word is sure and without contradiction. If those throughout the history recorded in it have sought You out, then so can I. And so I commit my life to Jesus and look forward to eternally learning more about You. What a great and awesome God You are! Amen.