Over the past couple of generations of evangelicalism much has been made of the “seekers.” There is even a movement of seeker-friendly churches. The basic idea of these seeker friendly churches, from my perspective, is to make church more inviting for people who are not Christians but are seeking God (I think that is a very fair statement). I think that to a degree the emergent Church movement, despite its disdain for “seeker-friendly” churches, has a similar attitude. The ECM is very sensitive to cultural issues, and sees the importance of understanding a post modern culture in order to minister to its people (which is a very good thing). Thus the ECM has different terminology, but on many levels it holds many of the same attitudes as the “seeker-friendly” movement (This is a broad statement that will get me in trouble. I should spend a week developing it, however I will only say that there are many within the ECM who place too much of an emphasis on the culture of the unregenerate as a means of reaching them.). This being said I do not want to write about either of these movements. Rather, I want to have a biblical conversation about these so-called seekers. My question is, who are these seekers? What are they looking for? Are they even lost?
To find the answers that we are looking for we must turn to Scripture. What I aim to show in this post, and the following posts, is that when the term seeker (or some form of the word) is used in Scripture it is with reference to a regenerate individual.
To begin we must look at Romans 3:11b : “There is none who seeks for God;”
This seems to me to be a pretty clear statement. No one seeks after God. This would be the end of this post, however we know from Scripture, experience, and history that there are people who have sought after God. So how are we to reconcile these two points? First we must decifer the meaning of our Romans 3 text.
Without spending a month of posts on this one verse let me briefly lay out the context of the passage. If we look back at the first three chapters of the book of Romans we will see an in depth description of the depravity of man. The first paragraph (1:18-23) and the concluding paragraph (3:9-20) do well in summarizing Paul’s description of the sinfulness of man. In the first paragraph we see that human beings, in their natural state, are unrighteous. Human beings have suppressed the truth about God, and boasting of their own wisdom they have exchanged the glory of God for man made idols. So often we hear that people are basically good, and given the opportunity will do the right thing. Romans chapter 1 tells us something very different. This theme runs throughout the first three chapters of Roman until finally in 3:9-20 Paul concludes his prosecution of sinful man with a final and formal indictment against all men. This is the context within which we find our passage on seekers, or should I say lack thereof. Paul is putting forth a description of man in his natural state apart from the redeeming work of Christ (the work that Paul outlines in 3:21-31). For this reason, I can say that when Scripture refers to an individual as a seeker (or some form of the word) it is not with reference to a natural man who is apart from the redeeming work of Christ.
I hope to do a couple of post at the beginning of next week that continue on this same theme. My aim is to find the truth of this matter in the pages of Scripture.