There Is No Such Thing as a Seeker
Part 2 - What does it mean to "seek"?
Steven Long 6/02/12

Our last post on this topic confronted the idea behind most seeker sensitive churches that so-called friendship evangelism was foreign to Scripture. Of course, there's a lot more to seeker churches than that, but this is the method which drives most of their evangelism zeal.

I left the open-ended question in the last post of what it really meant to seek God and that is what we will focus on in this post. The apostle Paul clearly states,

There is no one that seeks after God (Ro 3:11 ESV). Many are confused by this because they see the myriad of the world's religions and think, "Doesn't that prove that people seek after God? If they're not seeking after God why so many religions?"

The first rule in understanding a Biblical passage is that we must keep the verse within its proper context. First, we must look at the context of the verse itself, which would include everything up to this point and the verses immediately following (3:10). Then we will look briefly at the Old Testament quote and see how Paul is applying it to his audience. Once we take these steps the picture will become much clearer and we will have an understanding of what is meant by "seeking God." Let's begin.

First, it is important to understand the logic behind the first three chapters of Romans. Paul is making a case for universal sin–that is, both Jew and Gentile are under the same condemnation. The Jew has no advantage over the Gentile because he is a Jew with God's Law; in fact, he is more accountable for having God's Law (Ro 2:24, 27). The Gentiles, likewise, are without excuse because they do by nature what is written in God's Law without having the Law (Ro 2:14). In chapter 3 Paul now pinnacles the idea of universal sin by declaring (1) the wickedness of all men, whether Jew or Gentile (Ro 3:10-14) and the righteousness of God in judging all men based upon faith rather than works (Ro 3:25-30). Now that we've looked at the first three chapters from a bird's eye view, let's move on to a more detailed analysis.

Paul spends the first chapter of Romans demonstrating the righteous wrath of God on the ungodly. He begins with his usual salutation (vv. 1-7), expresses his desire to come to Rome (vv.8-15), and then gives a reason why he desires to preach the gospel (vv.16-17). At this point, he goes on, and finishes out chapter 1 on the effects of sin in the human heart (vv.18, ff). Note what the downward spiral of sin has caused:
  1. Dishonoring & unthankfullness of the Creator (vv.19-21)
  2. The worship of creation rather than the Creator (22-25).
  3. Homosexuality (vv.26-27)
  4. God gives them over to do whatever they desire (28-31)
  5. An honoring and encouragement of evil things (v.32).
So the progression continues rapidly after the fall of Adam. But note #2 on the list: they still desire to worship something. Remember that Paul has stated that no one seeks God. The first conclusion we may draw from this passage is this: A desire to worship does not necessitate seeking God.

The second chapter opens with Paul rebuking those who teach the Law of God to the Gentiles. Are they committing the same acts as what they are teaching against? Do they commit adultery? Do they rob temples? Are they using God's kindness to continue to live instead of repenting? (Ro 2:1-5, 17-24). Paul states that God will judge each man according to the things he has done–whether under the Law or without the Law (Ro 2:12-16). He conclueds chapter 2 by clarifying what true circumcision is. It is a circumcision by faith through the Spirit of God (Ro 2: 29). The defining distinction in this chapter is that it is written to those who have the Law of God and teach others (i.e, the Jew or one who is religious). Therefore, we can conclude this about chapter 2: Being religious or having a form of religion does not mean one is seeking God.

Chapter 3 opens with Paul declaring that, in standing with God, all are on equal ground. It doesn't matter whether you are Jew or Gentile. In order to substantiate this claim he strings together several Old Testament quotations from the Psalms. Our verse, verse 11, is actually pulled from two parallel Psalms, Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1-3. The actual OT quote states, The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. Does this mean then that Paul was wrong? Do people then actually seek God. The answer would be an emphatic NO! for the Psalm gives the answer in the very next phrase: "They have all turned aside" (Ps 14:3). Paul, then, is not adding something to the text. More than likely he is stating the conclusion to his audience that is alluded to in the Psalm, the conclusion being that God looked down and saw that no one was seeking Him. So in this case we can thus conclude this: Seeking God is not about religion.

However, as simple as that may sound, there is another aspect that must be explored; one that cannot be ignored. What about the passages in Scripture that command people to seek God? If no one seeks God then why is it commanded? This is what will be explored in our next post.