Friend, you may be on a search not unlike the search I started years ago. When I first heard “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16), and that God had a family, and that He welcomed people into it, I desired to have this eternal life and to belong to God’s family. One day, at eighteen years of age, in the privacy of my bedroom, in a moment of prayer, this experience became mine. I was born again and I was set free.
As we get into discussing spiritual search, I want to lay down a bit of a foundation to explain what a spiritual search is and why we should be encouraged to embark on such a search. In the Bible, in the Book of Acts, we read:
And He has made from one [a]blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;
Acts 17:26-27(New King James Version)
Here we see that God has made each one of us, and has positioned us in such a place that we should seek Him. This is because He wants us to find Him. In fact, He is not far from any of us. Have you ever felt like God is far, so very far, from us? That is because our sins have made a separation between Himself and ourself. However, even with this separation, He is not very far away. He is closer to us than we think and He wants us to find Him, because He loves us. He has been setting things up so that that may occur. In fact, Jesus Christ, the Son of God desires that every single person who enters this world would come to God and be saved. Again, we read;
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3 (New King James Version)
On a number of occasions, I have asked people whether or not they are on a spiritual search. I have learned that not everyone is on such a search. Firstly, there are those who would say that they have found God, through faith in Christ, and their search is over. They are now growing in, not searching for, their faith. They, and I, have moved from spiritual search to spiritual journey. If that is you, then God bless you brother. God Bless you sister. However, there are many around us who would admit that they have not found God, and are not on a search for Him. Why? They may say that they have been hardened by life, the pains, disappointments and losses that they have suffered and they may blame God for these. They are not searching. That is sad. Friend, a big part of searching for God is finding peace with God. If you go through life never making peace with God, then you will one day stand before Him as His enemy and face His judgment. If this is you, then I invite you to take a lesson from the next group of people that I am going to address.
Who is the next group of people that I am about to address? It is those who would say that they too have experienced a lot of hard knocks, pains, disappointments, struggles and losses but they have chosen to not let these experiences harden their hearts but rather, they would like to find God. They somehow know instinctively that if they will and do, find God, that their deepest fears will be alleviated and their deepest longings will be satisfied. Friend, if this is you then there is great hope for you. God has positioned you in such a place that if you seek Him you will find Him. Your sins have created a separation but He is not very far away. You are not far from the kingdom of God.
You might be reading this and saying that you have tried to find God before and have been unsuccessful. You might be reading this and say that you are following a religion other than that of Jesus Christ. Whatever your experience or background, keep reading. We are going to discuss some very basic things. At the end of this discussion, you will know how to conduct your search. More importantly, God wants you to find Him, wants you to be saved, wants to have peace with you, wants to have relationship with you, has positioned you so that this might occur and is not very far away.
There is another fundamental thing that you need to understand. God doesn’t think the way that humans naturally think. We read;
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9(New King James Version)
This means that we don’t naturally think the way that God thinks and He doesn’t naturally think the way that we think. This means that we must be open to a new way of thinking and let God’s way of us finding Him, sink in. If we don’t understand this then we will become offended easily, at an early stage in our search and potentially give up our search altogether. Some would say that they are confused by the Bible’s message and think it is because it was written so long ago and irrelevant to us today. No, that is not it at all. It has more to do with our heart-attitude and our openness to understand and our willingness to engage in this search. If you and I were alive in Biblical times and we had a searching heart we would have found God then. If we have a searching heart today, then we will find Him today. Remember He “…has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him,…”
While there are more obscure parts of the Bible that discuss prophetical events and which I would only, in small part understand, the portions that deal with spiritual search are simple and clearly laid out so that even a child can understand them. Even so, it takes God to enlighten us to these simple truths. It also takes an openness on our part to receive what He is saying, even though it might go against the grain of what we would like to believe.
Remember how it was for Christ when He walked the Earth and ministered. He had great crowds form around Him and they stayed for a little while. Then Jesus would speak a “hard saying” and the crowds would leave and disperse. Why? Because they didn’t really have searching hearts. They didn’t understand, or want to understand that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. If our hearts are like theirs we will give up our spiritual search as well. However, there is another response altogether. Consider a case like the one I mentioned above where a crowd who were initially interested, were suddenly offended and then dispersed. Jesus’ disciples reflect on Jesus’ hard saying, that offended so many and we read;
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a [a]hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples [b]complained about this, He said to them, “Does this [c]offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” From that time many of His disciples went [d]back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
There are a number of things in this passage that must be noted:
1)Jesus sometimes delivers hard sayings that go against the grain of what we would like to believe
2)The words that Jesus speaks to us are spirit, and they are life.
3) Jesus has the words of eternal life.
We are going to continue with these thoughts but, before we do, I invite you to pray a request for understanding. We need God to open up our understanding and cause us to understand His simple truths so that we find Him, as He desires. I invite you to sincerely pray the following, or something similar in your own words:
“God, I have just read that You have determined my preappointed times and the boundaries of where I live, so that I should seek You and find You and that You are not far away. I need to find You. I need to find peace with You. I have decided that I will not let the hard knocks of life harden me, but rather, I open my heart to hear You speak and lead me. I also have decided that I will not give up my spiritual search just because of some hard sayings along the way. I want to hear the words of Jesus Christ. I want to hear His words of eternal life. Thank you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”
All who wish to start this search must start looking in the right place. God has made the pathway for us and, to begin walking on it, we need a basic understanding of what God thinks about us and understand what He has done to bring about His will in saving men and women. To bring us to this understanding, God has given us His holy Word, the Bible. As we read trough the Bible we will come across some hard sayings. When we do so we will either choose to be offended by them and give up our spiritual search, or we will recognize that they are true and, if we accept the truth, that the truth will set us free.
The first hard saying or thought that we must grapple with is that we have sinned against God and deserve His judgement. Scripture teaches; “But your iniquities have separated you from your God;…” (Isaiah 59:2 New King James)
Iniquities is another word for sin. What is sin? It is breaking God’s laws. God gave ten commandments and they can be found in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 5. They include such things as having no other gods before Him, not taking His name in vain, not committing adultery (not having an affair), not murdering and more. Religious leaders of Jesus day, along with religious leaders throughout time have told themselves that they have kept these laws. However, Jesus taught that men and women have sinned even by committing these actions in their own fantasies, not necessarily acting them out in life. For example, Jesus taught;
“You have heard that it was said [i]to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28New King James Version)
“You have heard that it was said to those [d]of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother [e]without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’[f] shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, [g]‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of [h]hell fire.”
(Matthew 5:21-23 New King James Version)
By this standard, we have all been guilty of sin, which means that we all need God’s forgiveness. Scripture teaches “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. “ (James 2:10 New King James Version) Again, by this standard, we have all been guilty of sin, which means that we all need God’s forgiveness. In fact;
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord [a]has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
(Isaiah 53:6 New King James Version)
These are some of the hard sayings that Holy Scripture (The Bible) present to us. Scripture wasn’t made up by men but, rather, God gave them the message;
knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private [a]interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but [b]holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
(2 Peter 1:20-21 New King James)
We have that message in written form to read today. God has promised to preserve His Word;
The words of the Lord are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O Lord,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.
Jesus said; “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35).
I would like to say that if you are beginning to read the Bible, in starting your spiritual search, a great place to begin is the Book of John. Here you will find much of the most useful spiritual information, from the teachings of Jesus Christ, relating to spiritual search. In fact, the Apostle John, who wrote this Gospel, said of it;
but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
(John 20:31 New King James)
Remember our earlier point that Jesus has the words of eternal life. This is what Jesus Christ Himself taught about His word and about knowing the truth;
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
So, as we begin our search, we start by reading God’s holy Word, the Bible, and, in the New Testament and especially in the Book of John, it is not long before we come across Jesus Christ. He is everywhere within its pages doing miracles, helping and teaching people. Who is this incredible figure? The Bible says that He is the Son of God (See Acts 9:20; Luke 1:35, 3:22), that He is Lord (See Acts 2:36, 16:31) and that He is “ … the Judge of the living and the dead.” (Acts 10:42). Jesus refers to Himself as “ … the resurrection, and the life: …” (John 11:25 New King James). He addressed God as His Father (see Mark 14:36) and said; “ … ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 New King James).
That is because the Scriptures teach “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5 New King James). Jesus said;
I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
(John 10:9 New King James Version)
As we read the Bible we begin to hear Jesus’ words, His truth and His instructions for us. Jesus shows us what He has done. His love for us caused Him to groan, weep and mourn over our condition and our fate. His heart was broken over a lost humanity whom He saw as sheep without a shepherd (see Mark 6:34). His love for us was so intense that He did the only thing that could be done to make things right between us and God. He chose to take the penalty for sin, that we deserve, upon Himself, even though that meant a torturous death on the cross. Then He resurrected from the dead, proving that He had conquered death. We can now come into the same victory. Because He conquered death, He can grant us life! The death and resurrection of Christ are the two greatest events in the history of the universe.
So we start by taking God’s Word, the Bible, and reading it. As we do, we begin to hear the words of Jesus. He highlights what He is trying to say to us. Then He takes us to the cross and shows us what we have done to transgress God’s laws, and what He has done to redeem us. Our hearts become filled with regret over our own actions and filled with gratitude for His unspeakable gift. There is also awareness that, to follow Jesus, we have to choose to abandon our old ways and choose to let Him change our lives. This is repentance. There was a certain amount of human ignorance that God was willing to overlook in ancient times. However, since the time of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice God now commands that all repent. We read;
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.
(Acts 17:30-31 New King James)
So we must repent, that is, turn from our own ways and commit ourselves to Him and accept His Lordship over our lives. This is not a promise that you will instantly do everything right and never fail again. We all will and do, fail even after initial repentance. However, repentance is to commit to abandon our old ways and let Him change every area of our lives that He desires to change and He will show us the specifics of what that entails over time.When we fail, we can come to Him for forgiveness. Repentance is the commitment and willingness to start the process.
So we repent and then exercise faith. It is in this time of repentance and faith that conversion occurs. It occurs by faith. Faith is believing in God and accepting what He has said and done. However, it is more than just believing; it is actively trusting Jesus and receiving Jesus into your life to be the Lord of your life. We read;
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the [e]right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
(John 1:12 New King James Version)
Spiritual search leads us to receiving Jesus by faith. When we do so, we become born again (see John 3:3-7) and become children of God.
It is saying:
Jesus, I believe that You died as my substitute and rose from the dead and now I trust my soul to You. It is now Yours. I trust it to You. I trust You with my very life. I receive You into the very core of my being. I welcome You. I believe that You won’t turn away any that come to You. I surrender every chamber of my heart, and every part of my life, to You.
Faith is critical. It is our way of responding to God and responding to what Jesus has done for us. Nothing else will make up for not having faith. We read;
But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
(Hebrews 11:6 New King James Version)
At this point of faith, Jesus enters our lives to be our Savior and Lord and all of our many sins are completely washed away! We also have just begun a relationship with God. The Bible says; “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 King James Version). Once you come to that place of faith, you cry out to the Lord in prayer, asking to be forgiven, saved and changed. It all begins with hearing Jesus’ words and believing them, then letting Him take us to the cross (the place where we see our need and His sacrificial provision), then responding in faith and repentance and calling on His name. Jesus said;
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (John 5:24 New King James)
Many people have started to search for God and, in the process, have become attracted to a Church or a religion. Many have found, somewhere along the way, that that religion was not what they thought it would be, or that a religious leader was not whom they thought he was. Many, at this point, have become bitter and abandon the search altogether. This is tragic, especially when God has done so much to draw men and women to Himself and has made His way plain in the pages of the Bible. This is why it is crucial, at the earliest stage of the search, to recognize Jesus Christ as the source of true faith, not a pastor, not a Church nor a religion, but the LORD Jesus Christ Himself. Others may fail you, but Jesus never will. Jesus promised “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will [a]by no means cast out.” (John 6:37 New King James). He is like an author and we are like a blank book. When we turn our life over to Him, He picks up His pen and begins to write a masterpiece work. He starts our faith, works on it, and then, one day, He finishes it. He gets all the glory. We fix our attention and devotion on Him.
Some would ask “Can I believe in Jesus as Saviour now and make Him Lord at a later date?” Friend all of these things; repentance, making Jesus LORD, putting faith in Jesus, becoming born again, becoming a child of God, beginning a relationship with God, believing and receiving Jesus are all meant to happen simultaneously.
When you prayerfully read the Bible, intent on hearing Jesus’ words, believing them and carrying them out, He will speak to you. Take the hand of Jesus and let Him lead. We read:
looking unto Jesus, the [a]author and [b]finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:2 New King James).
One day when I was eighteen years of age, I was laying in my bed and as I thought about my life, I had such a sense of my own lostness and of my own sin. I got out of bed, got on my knees and prayed to God. I told Him that I believed that He died for me and rose from the dead and I told Him that I would do whatever He asked of me. After a moment, I experienced a wonderful peace, accompanied with a knowing that I was now saved and born again. In the days and years that have followed so many things have changed as I now have new desires, new hope and a new relationship with God.
Friend, will you know the truth and be made free? Begin your spiritual search in the right place. Jesus is the door. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is not far away from us. God commands all men everywhere to repent. Come to Jesus Christ and repent and put your faith in Him. Receive Him as your LORD. Remember, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the [e]right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:” (John 1:12 New King James Version) Take your direction from God’s Word, the Bible. Jesus has died for your sins and mine. “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord [a]has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6 New King James)Then He rose from the dead. Come to Him now in repentance and faith.God bless you.
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Jesus Christ (John 11:25-26 New King James Version)
I offer a prayer that may help you. If you like, read it, internalize it and pray something similar to it in your own words. God bless you!
Lord Jesus, I believe Your Word and desire to be changed by it. I am a sinner. I feel so separated from You because of my wrong choices and my personal sin. However, I have read in Your word that you are not far away.I begin my search by coming to You and receiving You into my life. Please save me and clean me by Your blood. Please, by Your sacrificial, atoning death wipe out my sinful record. I want You to be my LORD. I will be Your servant and You shall be My LORD. I desire to become a child of God and choose to believe in Your name. I would like to have a relationship with You. I seek to come to the Father, through You. Hear my prayer.Cause me to be born again. I would like to be a part of God’s family and to enter the kingdom of God. I know that I don’t deserve this but my iniquity has been laid on You. I hear Your word and believe. May I have everlasting life and not come into judgment, but pass from death into life. I now decide to believe in You and believe in Your sacrifice for me. I also believe that You rose from the dead. I decide to follow You for the rest of my life. You are the door. I knock at this door. May I enter in and have eternal life? I come to You in prayer in this moment of faith and make my surrender to You. I receive what You have done for me. Thank you so much for making a way. Thank you for saving me because I cannot save myself. I can only surrender to You. I surrender. I believe. I trust. I receive. I receive Your gift of everlasting life. Thank You for making me clean. Thank you for life in Your name. My search is now over because I have now found You. I will go on to confess my faith in You to others.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture also taken from the King James Version
Tracts By Shawn Stevens