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What the Bible says about Searching for God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 5:3

"Poor in spirit" does not mean to conduct one's life without vitality, nor does it mean that a person is weak. Would we ever accuse Jesus of being weak? Jesus was the personification of humility. People think of humility as weakness because they are judging carnally by man's spirit, by sight. But the Spirit of God, the faith of God, judges according to things not seen—the Kingdom's standards.

Here is a definition of poor in spirit from a commentary by Emmet Fox on the Sermon on the Mount:

To be poor in spirit means to have emptied yourself of all desire to exercise personal self-will and what is just as important to have renounced all preconceived opinions [prejudices] in the wholehearted search for God. It means to be willing to set aside your present habits of thought, your present views and prejudices, your present way of life, if necessary, to jettison in fact anything and everything that can stand in the way of your finding God.

When Jesus counseled us in Matthew 18:4 that unless we became as little children, we would not even be in the Kingdom of Heaven, He was not holding up a child's innocence or purity as a model. He was not counseling us to become childish but to have a child's unconcern for social status, honor, or anything similar. When we are carnal, pride is such a master that we have little choice but to follow it. It is plowing the way before us. One who is truly poor in spirit, however, can ignore pride and follow God's lead.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part Seven)

John 1:13

"Not of blood" refers to the fact that there is no physical generation process by which we can become sons of God.

"Nor of the will of the flesh" indicates that we were not looking for God—we did not know what to look for. We knew about a lot about gods ("there are many gods," Paul says in I Corinthians 8:5), but we did not know what the God of the Bible was like. That is what we have to come to know. That is where eternal life resides—in knowing God (John 17:3). We did not know Him.

We did not know Him because we did not know what to look for. Even though we may have been searching for "God," we were not really searching for the God of the Bible, as we had no idea what to look for. We would never have looked for a God who commanded the keeping of the Sabbath or the holy days. Those are "Jewish." Our minds have been prejudiced in many different directions. We never would have looked for the God of the Bible.

John is showing it in another way—that we were not born by physical generation. We did not come to know God through any act of our own will, but rather it was something that came as a gift from God entirely.

John W. Ritenbaugh
John (Part 3)

John 17:3

The term "know" implies intimate, experiential knowledge, not merely bookish or theoretical knowledge. Jesus Christ suggests that having an intimate relationship with the Father and Son causes us to become one with them. The only way we can do that is by living the way God does by faith. He walks—lives life—with those who agree with Him. The One who already had this unique relationship with God reveals to us the knowledge of how to do that.

Originally given to a spiritually faltering people, Amos 5:4 adds a vital command: "For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: 'Seek Me and live.'" The word "seek" is not being used in the sense of "search" because God had already revealed Himself to them. Instead, it conveys the sense of "turn to Me," "seek to live as I do," "turn to My way of life," "seek to know Me in intimate detail."

In John 17:3, "eternal" is translated from the Greek aionis. Here, it deals not so much with duration of life, since by itself living forever would not necessarily be good. Rather, it implies "quality." Eternal life is the life of God, the way He lives life. To possess it is to experience a small measure of its splendor now.

Four times in this chapter (verses 6, 11, 12, and 26), Jesus uses the word "name" in reference to God. "Name" represents, identifies, signifies, and encompasses what He is revealing to us about God. It includes what He is in His Person, His attributes, and His purpose. God's name keeps, guards, and sustains us, both by our trusting what it signifies and then, through obedience, expressing what it means.

Psalm 9:2, 10 declares, "I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. . . . And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You." "Name" does not refer to what He is called or the sound of that name, but to what He is like in His nature and character. We can trust what He is. This has marvelous implications for us. Matthew 28:19-20 says:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

The word "in" in verse 19 can just as correctly be translated as "into," meaning that we are immersed into the name of the Father and Son. We now bear that name! They are God, and we are children of God. Baptism and the receipt of the Holy Spirit are the entrance into that name and all it implies! We have entered into the Family of God! Just as a son bears his father's name, God's name is our spiritual family name.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Third Commandment

1 Peter 1:10-12

Consider what these verses say from the standpoint of the prophets who were looking into these things. How did they look into these things? How did they seek God? How did they search Him out?

An actual example appears in Daniel 9:1-3:

In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the lineage of the Medes, who was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans—in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD [given] through Jeremiah the prophet, . . .

What was Daniel looking into? He was looking into the Bible, specifically the writings of Jeremiah the prophet.

. . . that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.

How did he seek God? By prayer, fasting, and study—the same things that we teach Christians to do. Looking into His Word is a major portion of seeking God. It is not the end of it because, as Amos 5:4, 6-7, 14-15 relates, "seek" in the biblical sense does not just mean "gaining an intellectual knowledge of God" but "turning to become like God." The knowledge of God is of absolutely no use unless we become like God, which is why he says, "Seek God and live!" (Amos 5:4, 6). What good is it if we have the knowledge but do not repent, do not turn to act and become like He is? None. If we only gain knowledge, we will not live.

Prayer plays a major role in this process. Daniel was seeking God's mind for the purpose of imitating, obeying, pleasing, being like Him, and doing His will. If we would continue in the prophet's book, we would find in chapter 10 that another occasion came up in which he fasted for three weeks. A person must be very serious and fervent to fast that long! The angel that is sent to him tells him that God heard Daniel's words from the very first day—that God would hear and answer was never a question. He spent three weeks fasting and praying to understand the will of God.

It is in this way that we come to know God in the sense of perceiving things as He does. If we are doing these things, we have every opportunity to pray according to His will because we will be praying His Word right back to Him—maybe not the exact words, but words that have the same sense. We will be on the same wavelength, as it were, with God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is Prayer?


 




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