The Real Seeker

((I didn’t write this. I’m merely sharing it, It’s by Brad Smith, 9/03. Edited for space issues, once again…))

There has been much debate over the “seeker sensitive” mode of “doing church.” It seems as if the people promoting this idea have the right attitude, but the wrong method for reaching the lost. I remember having a discussion with our District Superintendent in 2002 about evangelistic methods. I told him that I was going to try a method that was practically unheard of today in the churches in America. I distinctly remember him pulling closer to hear this “new exciting method”. I will never forget the look on his face when I whispered, “I am going to go into all the world and preach the gospel and teach people to obey everything that Christ commands, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” When I asked him if he had ever heard of this method before, he just smiled. He knew what I was getting at. We need to get back to the Scriptures. You cannot and will not find the “seeker sensitive” method of evangelism in Scripture–anywhere. As a matter of fact there is only one true seeker in Scripture. The true seeker is Jesus. Jesus even says, Himself, that He has come to seek and save the lost.

Misunderstanding Scripture

Many church growth methods that are floating around today are directly opposed to Scripture. Much of the ideal today stems from an Arminian theology that says man is in control. The problem with Arminianism is that the highest good is the “freewill of man” (which does not exist in much of the way Arminian’s today understand). This Arminian (man centered) thought has opened the doors for dominion theology, liberation theology, open theology, liberation theology, moral government theology, “the seeker sensitive church”, “the user-friendly church” and many other man-centered doctrines that come about by misunderstanding and misusing the Scriptures.

The Word of God is the final authority to the church. Faith comes from hearing the Word. It is the Word that judges the thoughts and intentions of mans heart. It is the Word that equips us for every good work that God has preordained His people to walk in. If we misunderstand or misuse the Word we are already at a loss. We are rendered powerless against the schemes of Satan. Even Jesus (the real seeker) used the Word to oppose Satan in the wilderness.

The “seeker sensitive” church uses Luke 15 as a major passage to justify their position. However, what they fail to understand is that in these fine parables the seeker always represents God, not man! The lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son, represents man. In order to see that the real seeker is Jesus we need to go back to the beginning.

What Does Adam Do?

It has often been said that eighty percent of Christian theology can be found in the first three chapters of the Bible (Genesis 1-3). This is where the fall of mankind occurs. We have to remember what happened after the fall. Adam and Eve were in the garden and they hid themselves from God. Not only did they try to hide from God, but also they attempted to cover themselves with leaves. Notice Adam was not seeking he was hiding. Then something very interesting happens. God says, “Adam, where are you?” Now the questions become, “Do you really think God could not find Adam?” “Do you really think God did not know where Adam was?” God knew exactly where Adam was, the problem was that God wanted Adam to realize where Adam was.

Let’s look at Adam’s idea to cover himself with leaves. This did not work as a covering. Why? Because it was man’s idea (much like the seeker sensitive phenomenon, it appears to be successful but only in man’s eyes). However, we read that God provided a covering for Adam and Eve that was made from animal skins (this also required the shedding of an animal’s blood, which will be very important in the rest of Scripture).

What Does Jesus Do?

…Let’s start with the calling of the twelve. This is basic. Jesus simply went to them and said, “Follow Me.” Jesus also added, “I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus was going to teach them to seek out the lost. Only the true seeker can teach this.

It is not too much later that Jesus crosses paths with a rich young ruler. It is important to know that Jesus did not try to get into this man’s mind. As a matter of fact, Jesus did not even start where the rich young ruler was. Jesus started with God’s law. When the rich young ruler did not respond it is important to note that Jesus did not sing a song or go into a drama that he could “relate to.” When the rich young ruler could not accept the spiritual teachings of Jesus, Jesus let him go and then used this as an illustration for His followers. According to “Seeker Senstive” rules Jesus did not “do church” right.

It is not long after this, in Jesus’ journey, that He meets up with a woman taken in adultery. He doesn’t give her a feel-good drama. He basically keeps her from being killed and tells her to go and sin no more. Or in other words, “knock off what your doing and don’t do it again.”

Then there is Mary Magadalene (the whore). She does not fit our white urban yuppie profile. However, she is actually one that we know accepts Jesus as Lord and remains faithful. Why? Because Jesus called her to Himself. See, Jesus says that no one comes to the Father except through Him. And the ones who do come are drawn by the Holy Spirit, not by feel good music or a gimmick.

We have one final person to deal with. This man is Peter. When Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered for the group saying, “You are the Christ (Anointed One) the Son of the Living God.” Jesus replied, “Flesh and blood (or man) has not revealed this to you, but my Father which is in heaven.” I often tell our church members that I only can proclaim the gospel. I do not have the power to convince anyone to follow Christ. I cannot even convince my kids to take out the garbage. How am I going to convince someone to change his or her whole spiritual orientation? Well, I don’t have to and I cannot. The Bible tells us that many are called, but few are chosen. This reminds me that, when I proclaim the gospel message, many hear. But it is then that the Holy Spirit gives the effectual calling to the heart of man. Jesus knew this. That is why He instructed His disciples to go from house to house and if people did not accepted the message they were to knock the dust of their feet as a testimony against them.

What Does Peter Do?

We see the Church formed in Acts chapter 2. Here we see Peter’s first recorded sermon on the “Day of Pentecost.” One thing that is interesting is that Peter says exactly who these promises are for. He says, “To your sons and daughters and to as many who are called by God.” Notice he does not say, “To as many as you can smooth talk and slide in some way and make them assimilate and feel good.” This same chapter then ends in an interesting way. Luke writes, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Again we don’t see where any were smoothed in or assimilated or had their felt needs met. We only see the Lord adding the ones that God called…

What Does Paul Do?

Any good speaker knows that there is a rule for speaking. You tell the people what you are going to say (Jesus), you say it (Peter), and then you tell them what you said (Paul). In the book of Romans Paul goes all the way back to Adam and explains the fall of man. (By the way Paul pretty much shoots down the whole Seeker idea when he tells us “No man seeks God.” This is pretty straightforward.) The Paul explains how Jesus is the “Last Adam.”

The interesting thing is that Peter and Paul both never doubt that it is God who calls us from the darkness into the marvelous light of His Son. Paul was even told to go to a certain city at one point because there were people there who were going to believe. It is obvious that the only job that these apostles had was to share the message of Jesus Christ and let the Spirit call these people through the Word of God.

What Should We Do?

We too have an obligation to share the Word and let the Spirit call. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians that it is through the foolishness of preaching that God has chosen to work. Paul reminds us in Romans that faith comes by hearing the Word. No one is saved apart from the Word of God. This is God’s plan.

The major problem is that what we save people with is what we save them to. If we save them with pop-psychology, feel-good methods, cool entertaining music, neat multimedia presentations, advertising, fads, and marketing (btw there is nothing wrong with these things in and of themselves) when these things are gone, so are they. However, if we win them with the Word of God, then when the Word of God is gone (which will be never (Isaiah 40:8)), then they will be with the Lord. It is Jesus who came to seek and save the lost. He is the real seeker. Let’s be “seeker sensitive”, but let’s make sure we are sensitive to the real Seeker. Remember what you win them with you win them to.

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