One of the great promises of Scripture is that which says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8; ESV)”
Jesus made this promise in the context of asking God for those good things which He wants to give to us. Such good things include mercy, love, salvation, wisdom and spiritual growth. God is eager to shower us with such blessings, and thus, Jesus says, understanding God as a Father who will give, we should ask, seek and knock.
The term, “seek,” here is notable. Seeking implies an active search. Rather than just waiting for random happenstance to bring us good things and blessings, the “to seek” emphasizes both our desire for such blessings and our willingness to look for the same.
Jesus was not a determinist, teaching such ideas as “what will be, will be.” To the contrary, Jesus is teaching us that if we desire to be blessed, we need to take steps to obtain what we want.
This is not to remove God’s goodness and grace in such matters. Jesus reminds us of the agency in God as the giver, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11; ESV)” God is the giver, the savior, and the blesser. He is the one with the power and ability to save men and forgive men their sins. We cannot accomplish these things apart from God.
But that still does not take away from God’s desire for us to seek and to ask.
The Bible teaches us, “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth,… that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us… (Acts 17:26; ESV)”
God is good and gracious and the search for Him need not be arduous or difficult, but it does require a modicum of initiative on our part. It has been said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Yet until we take that first step the journey will never commence.
Elsewhere in the Bible we are reminded, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32; cf. Acts 2:21).” Again, it is the Lord who does the saving; yet the grace of God does not negate our responsibility to ask, seek and knock. It is not the one who sits around wishing to be saved who is cleansed, but the one who actively calls upon the Lord for salvation. Thus the question and command to the penitent believer, “What are you waiting for? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16).”
Don’t just sit there waiting to be saved. Get up and do what God tells you to do in order to receive salvation. Don’t lie in bed wondering why God is not blessing you properly with spiritual wisdom. Take the initiative to open God’s word and read the wisdom He has placed there for your learning. Don’t waste your time wishing for things to get better. Go to God in prayer and ask for His assistance and help; and then having asked for that help, follow His commands so as to obtain what He has promised.
There is a path that leads to heaven, but like the journey of a thousand miles, so too the journey to heaven – we must take that first step. If we desire to reach the end, at some point we must make a beginning, and each step along the way we must resolve to continue going forward. To have a good knowledge of God’s word we must, at some stage, open up that word and begin reading. To have a life shared with God’s family, we must decide, at some point, to be a part of that family. To be more like Christ, we must, at some juncture in our life, decide to start imitating Christ. And to obtain the salvation God is offering us in Christ, we must ultimately, before we receive it, call upon God to give it to us.
Jesus taught concerning the path to heaven and eternal life, “the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:14).”
Perhaps one of the reasons that so few actually find the road that leads to life is because so many never bother actually looking for it. Jesus did promise that if you will seek, you will find. If you haven’t found it, it is reasonable to question how hard are you looking? God is not far from each of us, certainly not so far that He can’t hear us. His word has not been hidden; the message of God to man is contained in the Bible and is widely published and available. If we want to find salvation, let’s begin the work of seeking it.
If you have a heart that desires to seek after God, the church of Christ invites you to worship and study with us, at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions or comments, we invite you to share them with us at chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.