Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Utmost of Ends in the Pursuit of God

The pursuit of God in all areas of life is the utmost of ends. It is the goal that all Believers should aspire too.The thought or idea that a genuine child of God can be separated from the pursuit of Him as they go about their daily lives is foreign to the Scriptures that so many of us spend our time pouring over.

To find within ourselves the ability to mark off or encapsulate areas of our lives as distinctly different from our pursuit of God is to say to Him that we are not desperately in need of Him in all things. This was the entire ministry of Christ as He walked the earth; to point all He encountered to a passionate pursuit of the God of creation. This was His meaning with His words "If you love me keep my commandments", "The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength."

This pursuit is to consume us in all things. Are you a spouse? Be the spouse you are taught to be in Scripture by going hard after God. Are you a parent? Be the parent you are taught to be in Scripture by going hard after God. Are you a son or a daughter? Be the child you are taught to be in Scripture by going hard after God. Are you an employee? Be the employee that you are taught to be in Scripture by going hard after God.

Yet make no mistake, the pursuit of God is not mere religious moralism. It is not deific piety. It is a bending of the knee to the authoritative Word of God and recognition of the reality that all we need to is contained in Scripture. I practice my religion in vain if I merely work toward behavior modification in myself and others. One does not need Christ to be a stellar employee. But to be a stellar employee who's good works cause others, even the lost and spiritually dead of the world, to glorify God requires the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.

When the world praises the "good deeds" of a non-believer they are praising the self-centered works of a self-righteous person. But when the world praises the good works of the child of God, whether they are aware of it or not, whether they care to acknowledge it or not, they are praising God.God is the one who receives the glory when you hear "Job well done." There is no need for you to say to the non-believer "Praise God". They already have.

This is the difference in how we pursue God. We are not to spend every moment of every day wondering how to see God in each thing. We do not need to look for calculated times to say to ourselves, or even to others, "Now this I will do for the Lord." Every action we take should be done with this in mind. This is the meaning of Paul in his letter to the Church in Corinth when he wrote "In all that you do, do it all to the glory of God."

Our pursuit of God is meant to move us into a lifestyle of constant action. And we are to understand that all actions we take are to be done as spiritual work unto the Lord. There are no common daily tasks that are not permeated by our faith in God, our trust in Christ for salvation. The daily work of a minister or pastor are equally as spiritual as the work of a day laborer or a doctor. One is no more highly esteemed than the other. While God places a very high expectation on those whom He has called to shepherd, He does not value them or their work anymore than the work of the rest of His sheep. Because He has ordained them each to the work it is they do.

Just as marriage is a powerful image of the Gospel. So salvation is a powerful image of God's view of mankind. yes He did indeed call Abraham and make a special people out of him, but he also brought many people from out of the lands of the gentiles and pagans. So it is with those whom He calls to specific vocations. The man He has called to full time shepherding is no more called or sent than the woman who stays at home and labors to raise her children and manage her household. The believing trash collector is every bit as called to his vocation as is the seminary professor.

Each of these, and all of the Church Universal, is called to do what they are doing. So, outside of those behaviors and occupations which are by their very nature violations of God's law, all activities are meant by Him to be pursued to His glory.

Yet we must understand this, an unregenerate, God hating heathen is not pursuing God in even "good Christian" acts. The unbeliever who reads the Bible and sees a command and then performs that act, is in reality heaping up condemnation on himself. This is because he is doing this thing to appease God. Yet God is not pleased or appeased in the acts done to cover over our natural state. In Hebrews we are taught that the blood of bulls and goats do not satisfy Him, so it is with the acts of self-righteous merit done by the unbeliever.

So even a minister or shepherd who believes that they are doing good, yet is not truly converted, is in grave sin. This is not to say that God does not work through that person. It is to say however that they are not pleasing God. Consider Joseph's brothers. They were in grievous sin and yet God planned and worked through their evil. So it was with Judas. So it is with the multiple stories of street preachers who in sharing Gospel have come to understand that they themselves were not saved.

True pursuit of God- active seeking of Him- comes as a product of the realization of salvation through Christ alone. So even pursuing God is a gift to the saved. However, or because of this, the one who professes Christ as Savior and Lord, but does not pursue Him in that way, is not saved.

So this leads to a strange dichotomy. On the one hand you have a man or woman who is giving the appearance of of being spiritually alive, doing good works and claiming God, but is yet unconverted and is only behaving as they are to appease the God that they fear. On the other hand you have the man or woman who gives lip service to being a believer. They claim to be spiritually alive in Christ; yet they have no drive to actually pursue Him. And while the activities are vastly different neither is actually pursuing God.

What it the cause of this? What leads to such misapprehensions of what it means to pursue God? In both examples it is the presentation of a less-than-sufficient or incomplete Gospel. A gospel that according to Paul in Galatians is accursed. These people who suffer from these faulty views of what it means to pursue God, or believe pursuing Him is not necessary at all, do so, not from a lack of hearing about God, but from a lack of hearing the true Gospel and it caters to their own wicked designs.

These people are the same as the unregenerate heathens of the of the world who have never heard of Christ. They are justly deserving of condemnation and remain under the just wrath of God. They truly have no one to blame but themselves for their current state. Yet unlike the heathens who have never heard the Gospel, these folks are burdened with the poor theology of the theologically inept and the willful deceivers they heard this false gospel from.

The theologically inept are the untrained and and uninformed believers. These are the folks who have zeal without knowledge. Passion without clarity. This could be a man, who takes on the mantle of leader or teacher without the proper training or guidance from his elders. Maybe his elders even look at his zeal and encourage him to this end thinking he is prepared without using their discernment. While the intention is well meant it is fraught with danger and pitfalls and in the end often leads to death.

The willful deceiver is the one who knows that what he or she is teaching is a lie and perversion. Consider all of those holding themselves up as pastrixes or prophetesses today. These women are self-deceived believing that they are called to an office that God has not ordained for them. To ascend to this office they must twist and taint scripture with abandon and this wicked habit continues from there on. Because of this, every message they deliver must take on the tainting of scripture that these women wallow in. So even a presentation of the true Gospel by one of them becomes a happy coincidence and not a matter of design.

So the same can be said for all of the deniers of the Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity. Oneness Pentecostals, modalist like TD Jakes, Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormons all fall into this camp. But worse yet these folks can never preach the true Gospel even by accident because they believe in a false Christ.

In the end the theologically inept often times preaches the same false gospel message as do the willful deceivers. It is a gospel of earned righteousness. It paints a picture of a god who grants desires no matter what those desires may entail. It is a message of universal love that would never allow any person to go to hell. It preaches about a god who accepts all people just as they are with no requirement to change. What does not matter in this is the intent. All that matters is the end.

The theologically inept may mean well while the willful deceiver intends to drag people to hell, but a bullet to the head from a genuinely nice guy kills just the same as a bullet to the head from a notorious hit-man.

So what is the solution to this disastrous problem? How do we remedy the outcome of the false gospel preached by so many today? Are the individuals who have been victimized by these problems, who think they are pursuing God but in reality pursuing their own ends, salvageable so-to-speak? The answer is yes.
No one this side of eternity is beyond hope of redemption.

The answer is to proclaim the Gospel to them.
Proclaim it to them constantly.
Proclaim it with authority because the God of all creation stands behind His words and promises that His word will accomplish what is is sent to do.

Along with this we must remember that it is not our end to ensure results, but to remain faithful. When we boldly preach the Gospel we are also laboring to make disciples. In the making of disciples we are pursuing God and and compelling others to do the same.

While we pursue God in the making of disciples we are working to ensure that we are also not causing the same problems we have been seeking to remedy. Paul used the phrase "follow me as I follow Christ"; this is a compelling thought. It points us to a reality in which we go before those we are leading. We are walking a trail, following a path laid out by Christ and carrying the light of Scripture as we go.

The amazing thought in this is that the path we are on isn't simply the footsteps of Christ, but the deep furrows of His Cross. The humbling thought in this is that that furrow that was made by His Cross is so deep that once we are in it and walking we cannot get out of it. There are no fatal missteps precipitous cliffs with a fall to our death. He has gone on before us lighting the path He has made at His own great expanse and suffering. As He leads us He cries out "Pick up your cross, follow me. Come to me all of you who are heavy laden and weary and I will give you rest."

The promise of God is that pursuit of God is a guarantee that we will reach Him through the work of Christ. And as hard as it may be in the pursuing it is a joy for us!
Soli Deo Gloria!

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