This is one of those questions that periodically bother me when I come across testimonies that are so incredibly miraculous (no human intervention or reading of the Bible) and then see people (especially on social media) who are so anti-God but craving for meaning in life and never finding it. There are so many voices talking about truth, and I kept wondering that the God of Truth would reveal His truth to people who seek so why are so many “finding” islam or buddhism? If it’s ultimately the Holy Spirit who convicts someone then why do only some find Jesus and the rest who are “spiritual seekers” don’t? I’m sure God has His reasons but does everyone who seeks really find?
Thanks for voicing out.
I’m not a regular contributor on this platform so when I read your question, I suddenly felt I shouldn’t even think twice about it. I felt I should read, smile and wait for the senior guys to come and answer on our behalf .
Secondly, when I took a glance at your name, I noticed you are an alumni of the Academy (an experience I have desperately craved for🤗); and hence I am not, I assumed that you should ordinarily know more, and probably have more logical and coherent opinions about your question. At first I wondered whether you were asking for yourself or you were asking on behalf of someone else. Suddenly, I observed that you opened your question by stating how you are periodically bothered about the question you have raised.
I honestly pray that my two pence response will be helpful. I must state that, I am not merely answering for you, but also for me. This is because I have not taken time to think through the issues you have raised, so in a way, I will be thinking aloud in my response.
I will try to rephrase the questions you have raised in your question and see how best I can approach it.
God is Sovereign and in his sovereignty he saves people without having them read the Bible or without human intervention. If that is so why doesn’t He just save everybody?
There are people who are anti-God and at the same time, they are craving for meaning and never finding it. Why is it so? Why can’t they find the meaning they are desperately craving for?
Many people are searching for truth, some find Islam, others find Buddhism. Why is it that only a few find Jesus?
The first question raises two more questions:
The question of God’s sovereignty and the question of universalism.
J.I. Packer begins his book ‘Knowing God’ with a quote from C. H. Spurgeon, which reads: “There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in the contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity… but while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. And whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is in contemplating Christ, a balm for every would; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Spirit, there is a balsam for every sore.”
I believe that God is Sovereign, and our contemplation on his Sovereignty can either console us or torment us. It can raise more questions for us or provide suitable answers.
In his Sovereignty he has saved us and even among those who have experienced salvation, there is this legitimate question as to whether they were the ones who sought for God or God sought for them or both were seeking for each other
“For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost”
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
“I’ll have mercy on who I will have mercy…”
“Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God and there is no other.”
Some centuries ago, a hymn writer contemplated the concept of salvation in the following words: “I know not how this saving faith to me He did impart; or how believing in His Word wrought peace within my heart”
In a way, how God imparts faith in us or causes us to believe in His Word is indeed a wonder of all wonders.
Apart from merely being mesmerized by how God provides salvation to us, it is important to equally observe that the invitation for Salvation has gone out beyond the proclamation from human utterances. Angels announced it. Creation also bears witness to the existence of the God who saves; then in the quietness of the human conscience, is the divine revelation of what is good (Micah 6:8). As a result there are different persuasions that will lead individuals to the saving knowledge of Christ. In summary, God has played his part, he planned the salvation of mankind, executed it and has left traces for us to follow. For some their encounter is dramatic, for others it is undramatic. For some it is miraculous and others simply grew into the realization. Whatever the case, these are simply our interpretations of our salvation experiences. However, no one can state that they were saved against their wish or consent, instead, people willingly, and consciously decide to believe and accept God at His terms. For God to use His sovereignty to forced people into experiencing salvation will be a violation of their will, hence He has left it as an option - while stating the benefits and the consequences of our choices. Ultimately, God desires that we will all be saved (1Tim. 2: 4). But He has not promised to force it on us.
- How best can we answer the question of anti-God individuals and their quest for meaning? Many major historical figures in philosophy have provided an answer to the question of what makes life meaningful. (I find the comprehensive writing of Metz Thaddeus: “The Meaning of Life” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy helpful. You can read more from the cite: plato.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/encyclopedia/archonfo.cgi?entry=life-meaning).
Upon what premise, can humans find meaning or make meaning out of life. The category in question is ‘anti-God’… that they are anti-God does not mean they can’t find meaning but like Ravi would say, "When everything comes together, life’s meaning can be found in wonder, truth, love and security. And only God is big enough to give us all four. But when people remove God in the equation and want to find meaning in life, the question of evil and human suffering comes and knocks down everything they have held unto. The premise upon which we stand in our quest for meaning, can be a determinate factor as to whether our quest will be satisfied or not.
I believe the book, “Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense” by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale surely shade more light on the question of meaning for anti-God folks.
Like I said earlier, I pray that my two pence response will be helpful. This is the much I can attempt for now. Thanks.
@anjusabu Great question I think there are a few things we have to keep in mind when thinking through this question.
- ultimately, God judges our hearts - He knows what we know and what knowledge we’ve had access to (see thread at bottom of this post)
- not everyone who is a seeker is ready to submit to God - they may recognize their emptiness, but be unwilling to surrender their life to Christ. They may still be holding on to secret sin, pride, fear of man, or something else that holds them back. And, as it says in Romans, some people simply do not consider it ‘worthwhile’ to retain the knowledge of God.
- even when salvation appears miraculous, such as through dreams and visions, I believe there is still an element of free will involved. The person must be ready to submit to what God is showing them.
- those who truly love God joyfully submit to Christ alone, recognizing who He is because the Spirit of God reveals it
Ultimately we can trust that God, who sees everyone human heart and knows all that we have been through, will judge each person justly. We can trust that He is love because of what He has done in Christ - His judgment will be true and pure and good and right!
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.” C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
Romans 1:28 - Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
John 3:19-21 - This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 8:42-47 - Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
On the New Birth
A good sermon on what it means to be born again. Doesn’t directly answer your question, but Keller makes some helpful points.
I Anjusabu, I do also ask to myself the same question? RC Sproul used to defend the Doctrine of the Predestination: which says that we the children of God, have been chosen before we were born, the seed of “regeneration” put in us (by HIM) to open our eyes and our heart to His Word, to believe in Him and to follow Him!
Like you, I am only a student of His Word, and I could be mistaken about the conception of “The Predestination”, doctrine that is still in debate.
Love you sister!
This is a good question. I will certainly meditate on the subject in the coming days.
“The heavens declare the glory of God”. The existence of the universe itself is a miracle. To us nature can be called God’s first missionary. Knowing that the universe exists is knowledge. Knowing that it was created by God out of nothing is faith.
God doesn’t use extravagant miracles because it would means a compulsion to believe in him and it would take away our freedom of choice. Our relationship with God will be under duress. I believe that God wants to draw us to himself with love as demonstrated on the cross and receive salvation by faith in Christ.
Our God is a God of miracles and wonders. Yet the incarnated God in the person of Christ did not go about healing every sick person he met. At the pool of Bethesda there was a large number of disabled people-- the lame, the blind and the paralyzed. Jesus healed only one lame person who was invalid for 38 years.
Next, there will be always the unbieliving people whether God performs miracles or not. I have seen Christians who have witnessed or experienced miracles but their way of life remain unchanged.
Faith in God and life eternal by believing in his Son is more important than any other things including miracles. Lazarus was raised from the dead. But where is Lazarus today?
In Romans 2:7-8, Paul says that eternal life is available for those who seed goodness, glory and honor. What we see here is that God will judge everyone by their righteousness. Is this passage telling us about people who never heard of the Gospel or witnessed any miracle to convinced them of who the true God is? Will these people be judged by their actions just as by faith the Old Testament heroes of faith (Hebrews 11) were made righteous?
These questions only reveals frailties of mankind. We don’t have the specific answer to every question about our eternal Almighty God. Our God is a God of mysteries too. The bottom line is that we must realize the desperate need for evangelism to every corners of the world. That is our primary calling.
Although I am rather new to both to Christ and this community, I think I can answer this question.
In Matthew 7-8:7, we are instructed to “Ask, and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened onto you; for every one that asketh receiveth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”
I understand that to mean that if someone is not willing to ask, not willing to find, then they will not be answered or find the truth. For example, I read Matthew several times in my studies, that is to say, I read the passage but I did not knock on the door it offered. It did not matter how drawn I felt to those words until I accepted them into my heart, only then was it possible for the Holy Spirit to reach me.
I think that God reaches out to all, for how could it be otherwise, but just as in order for one to converse on the phone with another, it is not enough for the one to ring; the other must also answer. I had to shut out many other voices before I could even start to hear the whisper of the one; the voices of my doubt, my intellect, and my preconceptions. God is always ringing, but it is faint to those who will not listen.
Those who are anti-God, I expect, are generally unable to hear Him so long as their hearts are so closed, but should they ever be willling to knock on that door, then the door will open for them. I do apologise if this was clumsily written. I am but a novice and I have to start from somewhere.
Your response is right on, Alon, and not clumsy at all! I really liked your analogy of one person calling another on the phone, and the second person not picking up. I believe God calls to each and every person! And I am very thankful that when we call, God always picks up!
@Alon, very well said.
Look 16:31 says, “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
This is a succinct description of man’s response to the miraculous. Persuasion do not come from the evidence seen or presented. Persuasion stems from the inner thoughts of the heart, our very person and conviction. Nature and nurture may play some role in man’s belief system. But the human heart will remain the same, a vacuum only his Creator will be large enough to fill. A heart in honest search of his Creator will keep one away from charlatans and idols.
God will relate with us according to our individuality or necessity. (Job and Elijah both experienced despondency, but He responded to them differently—He answered Job through a whirlwind, while to Elijah in a whisper.)
He uses both science and miracles to reveal Himself. But He will not be fooled to give pearls to the swine. Ultimately, man’s response to God’s redemption is not a matter of evidence, but of choice.
A loosely told and re-told anecdote in space exploration says, when man first viewed cosmos from the space, the American astronauts and the Russian cosmonauts responded differently:
The astronauts exclaimed, “Indeed, there is a Creator,” while the cosmonauts blurted, “Where is God?” Both has seen the same thing, the miraculous wonder of the universe, but responded differently.
To further buttress your point:
The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. (Revelation 16:8–11, ESV)
We see that in the End of Days, in the midst of all the evidence that anyone would ever need, the objects of God’s wrath curse God and do not repent. This shows that they do not seek God. The same applies today. Those who truly seek God find him; those who do not find him were not seeking him.
Hey, sometimes it appears the shorter the sweeter. I am blessed by your contribution plus I enjoyed it. We really never stop learning. More grace to you Alon