But without faith it is impossible to please him, for he that cometh to God must first believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Hebrews 11:6.
What does it mean to “come to God”? This is the central theme of all time if it were to be distilled to its core element. Nothing else we do in life will eternally affect us as will our choices relative to the things of God and our never-dying souls.
More has been written on this than could be contained in a vast library of printed books, with ideas and doctrines so diverse that it is not possible for them all to be true. And yet they continue to multiply. No wonder so many people shut off their inner voices that had been urging them to continue seeking until they find the truth. It is not easy to find. But is it impossible?
The Scripture verse above says that it is not impossible. It does not say that it is easy. “Diligently seek” is not a phrase that carries a connotation of occasional thought, blind acceptance, or comfortable acquiescence. Let us break down what God says is required for coming to Him, by focusing on the elements of this verse.
He that cometh to God… Who is “he”?
- Someone who has faith (Hebrews 11:6, But without faith it is impossible to please God…)
- Someone who is being drawn to come to God (John 6:44, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…)
- Someone who is beginning to respond to that drawing (James 4:8, Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.)
How does he “come to God”? The image above of a child’s first steps has implications…
- The child is being called to come. (John 15:16, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…)
- The child has to take a physical step. (Luke 9:23, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.)
- The child will be rewarded when he takes even a halting step. (John 6:37, …and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.)
How does he “believe” and “have faith”?
- He hears the Word of God (Romans 10:17, …faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.)
- He believes what he hears, understanding that believing requires some kind of response (Acts 2:37, Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?)
- He acts on what he has heard; he obeys the Word (Romans 6:17, But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.)
- This response of obedience allows him to receive more of the Word (John 7:17, If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine…)
How does he “diligently seek”?
- He continues to make steps (2 John 1:6, And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.)
- He fights to know the truth (Jeremiah 29:13, And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.)
- He forsakes all to follow (Matthew 13:46, Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.)
Our illustration of child’s first steps is instructive in more ways than one. In that child’s mind, he knows there is a response required of him to do what his parent is asking: “Come to me.” That infant brain is struggling to make the connection between what he understands and what his little body knows how to do. His muscles are not yet trained to respond.
It is not the first time he has been asked to come, yet this time he wills himself more strongly than ever to get his chubby body balanced, to raise his little foot, to lean forward slightly at the same time, to plant his foot and stay upright while he repeats the process with the other foot. Even if he falls, he is rewarded for trying. But he must keep trying.
Years later, if he is asked to come to his father, failing to do so will be an act of disobedience, of choosing not to continue, but today it is a factor of him attempting to discern what it means to “Come to Daddy,” and of not giving up until he makes it happen.
God draws us to Him. That drawing requires a response. That response is not a one-time acquiescence, but a full-time walk of submission and obedience that brings more knowledge to be obeyed, more light in which to walk. (John 8:12,…I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.)
But what if we start to follow, obey a little, face something we are not quite ready to embrace, and decide to stop? Jesus told His disciples, Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth, John 16:23. A guide can only lead you where you will follow him.
The Spirit of God will lead you, but if you stop going forward, He does not. You are perfectly welcome to stay somewhere along the way that fails to get you into “all truth.” God is a gentleman, and though He will prompt and stir, draw and convict, He will not, cannot, force you to continue to follow. What then?
You may be uncomfortable with what I am about to say, but Scripture is replete with examples of religious, even spiritual, people who are not part of the true Kingdom of God. Consider these:
- Matthew 7:21-23, Not everyone that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
- Luke 13:24, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
- Jude 12, These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds …
- 2 Timothy 3:2-7, For men shall be lovers of their own selves… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…
- Romans 1:18, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
Someone did not continue to seek; they found a bit of truth, maybe repented at one time, but never followed on to fully obey. They stopped and camped right there, building a whole doctrine around a piece of the puzzle that was never meant to stand alone.
What did those who continued to follow on find and obey? Remember the question from Acts 2:37, Men and brethren what shall we do? Here is what they were told:
Acts 2:38, Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Three actions:
- Repent (Luke 13:5, I tell you,… except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.)
- Be baptized (Mark 16:16, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.)
- Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (John 14:26, But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.)
There are many who now direct those who would come to God to “just believe,” without ever fully defining for them what that means. Notice how many action words Jesus used:
- do (Matthew 7:21, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.)
- keep (John 14:15, If ye love me, keep my commandments.)
- walk (John 12:35, Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you…)
- follow (John 10:27, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.)
- come (Matthew 11:28, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.)
Having heard these things, how will you seek? Diligently, with a heart to obey what is revealed to you? Or casually, only willing to justify your actions and lifestyle?
Only knowing the truth as Jesus defined it, by obeying His Word continually, will ever make you free:
John 8:31-32, …If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
And it goes on and on, until we meet Him face to face:
Philippians 3:14, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 12: 14, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
I would love to hear your thoughts.