Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us. In today’s program, we begin a two-installment series of classics from our Search the Scriptures Daily archives with the late founder of The Berean Call Dave Hunt, and TBC executive director Tom McMahon. This week, they address the question, “How and Where Do We Find God?” And now, here’s Tom.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. In this first segment of our program, we’re going to look at a new book that Dave Hunt has just—oh, we’ve just published, and it’s called Seeking and Finding God. And, Dave, just generally, why did you write that book?
Dave: Tom, I meet so many people all over the world—taxi drivers…I mean, I’ve had amazing encounters on the Underground in London just a few weeks ago (on a train going into the Underground), on airplanes, and many of them are intelligent people. Some of them are thinkers. More people are thinking about life and death and God than we imagine, and I’m sure the Lord leads me to those who really are…
Tom: Even though we’re in the time of great entertainment and amusement, as we mentioned last week.
Dave: Right, right. More people are thinking about that, and—well, I send them various materials only with their permission, only after explaining what it is, but to have something to send to a non-Christian thinker on a train going into the Underground…going in the Underground, what, two or three weeks ago, the Lord sits me right there with a woman. She’s a pretty important lady: influence in government and so forth, not a Christian—eager to hear what I began talking about salvation and life and death. Really eager. Well, what could I give her to follow up? That’s what this book really is. You could give it to a university professor, but I think you could give it to a simple person, as well. It’s straightforward.
Tom: It’s only 120 pages, so it’s not something that they’re intimidated by, at least from the size of it.
Dave: Right. Now, I should explain to those out there who may have read An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith, I took the first few chapters of that book. That book is…well, it’s written mainly for Christians, because it goes on into discipleship and living the Christian life and so forth. So I took that part off mostly, and kind of redid it a bit, the first few chapters of that book—added a bit more to adapt it, really, for non-Christians. And I’m—I don’t often say I’m excited, but I’m excited about this book, because it has given me a tool that I needed.
Tom: Dave, in a sense it’s like The Nonnegotiable Gospel, but there’s much more to it. There’s much more, I think, depth to it, even in a very brief book.
Dave: I cannot remember The Nonnegotiable Gospel, that was so long ago. But one thing I do remember, Tom, I remember receiving a call from my office at The Berean Call: they had sold the first 5,000 copies (it went very fast), and they said, “Dave, we want to reprint it. We think more people would read it without your name on it.” I remember that, Tom!
Tom: Dave, what can I say? You’re a very controversial figure, you know? There are still some bookstores that you ask for a Dave Hunt book and they either frown or throw you out or…
Dave: Show you the door.
Tom: …show you the door, and even some that they say, “Well, we’ve got some here, but they’re in brown paper sacks. We keep them under the counter.”
Dave: Right, or in the back room. Special request.
Tom: But seriously, and you know your heart in that, we wanted to get this book as far and wide as we could, because it, that book, The Nonnegotiable Gospel, that’s what we’re losing today. So many people don’t understand the gospel or present a gospel that’s not the biblical gospel.
Dave: The basic idea behind the title of that book is people think they’ve got their ideas about salvation, how to get to heaven. You can’t even play a game without rules. You might say, “Well, is this the game of Life? Well, maybe it is. If it is, it must have some rules. Who made the rules?” The NBA, each guy out there on the floor does not make up his own rules, right? NFL, you don’t make up your own rules.
And one of the things that astonishes me, Tom—I’ve been thinking quite a bit about it lately: we live in an age when nobody wants to follow the rules, almost. You visit someone in their home, and I’ve said this many times, but I see two-year olds who ought to have an emperor’s or empress’s crown on their heads. They run the show. The whole family is afraid of them. If you cross them, they’ll throw a tantrum. And we have raised a generation of young people to think they can do whatever they want. “Do your own thing.” Of course, this has been going on for a long time.
And isn’t it amazing that in this world of almost—you could say “anarchism,” we still have referees at a soccer match? We still follow rules in the Olympics for each event, and they seem to be willing to obey those rules. And yet when it comes to something far more important, the road to heaven… They’ll follow their lane in the track when they’re running, you know, a race, or relay, or whatever. And they will pass that baton just at the right time or you are disqualified. But when it comes to going to heaven, if there is a heaven, if there is a God—I mean, my gracious, you think you can decide? You don’t negotiate with Him. You don’t make deals with God. He makes the rules. He created this universe; He created us. It is so elementary, Tom, but I live in a world where most people don’t even think of God. They couldn’t care less, and that doesn’t make sense.
Tom: Dave, your book, the one we’ll be addressing for the next few weeks, Seeking and Finding God… Now, as you open it up, you begin with a Scripture verse: it’s Jeremiah:29:13—I assume that’s the theme verse for the book. It says, “And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” On the one hand, the woman that you met on the train, she seemed to have a heart for the things that you mentioned. She seemed to be—you know, I wasn’t there, but I’m guessing that she seemed to be seeking after God. Yet, Dave, how does that square with Romans 3, where, you know, it says there are none who seek after God? Is this a contradiction?
Dave: Well, Tom, not to raise a sore subject of Calvinism, which is very controversial and getting more so these days in churches and so forth, but that is a Scripture the Calvinists would go to and say, “You see? Nobody seeks God. He has to cause you to come. He must draw you,” and so forth.
Or they would go to Genesis:6:5: “God looked down from heaven, He saw that the imagination of man’s heart was only evil continually.” And yet, the Bible is full of verses—for example, Abimelech, a Philistine king, could say to Isaac, “I have done you nothing but good.”
Jesus said, “Even the wicked know how to give good gifts.” Even the Nazi torturers, when they got home, they were kind to their dogs, very loving with their families. So when the Bible says there’s “none that understandeth, none that seeketh after God,” yet the Bible has several hundred verses where the Scriptures say, “We sought the Lord and he was found of us.”
“Blessings for those who seek the Lord…” In fact, Romans 3 is a quotation from Psalm 14, and I think Psalm—well, several Psalms on both sides talk about people seeking God. So what it is saying: this is not the natural bent of man. This is not his necessity—in other words, it doesn’t mean he can’t seek God or no one ever does, but the propensity of most people is not to seek God, and yet we are challenged to seek Him.
Tom: Does it also have to do with consistency, Dave? You know, even us that are believers that have the Holy Spirit, how consistent are we? I mean, we still have the old nature/new nature.
Dave: Yeah. Well, the fact is, Tom, although you could… As I was just saying, I look at the world around me: who is seeking God? They’re seeking pleasure, success, money, sex, entertainment, whatever it is, but the average person… That’s why it’s so amazing when God sits me next to people like this, because the average person on an airplane—you’ve got a couple hundred people on an airplane; how many do you think are interested, even interested? And yet the Lord sits me again and again and again next to someone who is interested, even top business executives of multinational corporations. It is amazing.
But why should we seek God? And why should we desire to find Him? You quoted the verse: “…when you seek for me with all your heart.” This is not a casual thing. If God exists…
I remember sitting next to a head of research for one of the top technological companies in the US, and he was an atheist, and he said, “I don’t believe in God. What does it matter? Who cares?”
“Well, yeah,” he said, “I guess it would be.”
“And you’re telling me the greatest discovery science could ever make doesn’t matter?” There is a big difference between God existing and God not existing, between man just being a product of some blind evolutionary forces and having been created by God. And if it’s true, if God exists…look, you folks out there who are listening to us, if I could say, “Well, come along and I’ll introduce you to President Bush.” Well, you don’t like Bush. “Okay, well I’ll introduce you to Kerry,” or whoever, some important person. Or, “Come on, I’ll take you to England and we’ll go visit the queen.”
People would say, many people at least, “Wow, that’s fantastic! Can you do that?” But what about knowing the God who created this universe, who is without beginning or end, who is infinite in wisdom and power, who loves us? Now, I think that is something worth spending some time on, and God says you must do it diligently with your whole heart. This is not a casual thing. It’s the most important pursuit we could ever have.
Tom: Now, Dave, if God says this, and we know He says it—Jeremiah:29:13, God through the prophet Jeremiah—if He says this, isn’t He going to enable people? And I’m not talking about irresistible grace, as the Calvinist would say, but before you mentioned “wooing.” Isn’t the Holy Spirit here for the world, to bring conviction upon the world, to woo…I mean, doesn’t God apply that to everyone?
Dave: The very fact that God says, “You will search for me and find me when you seek for me with all your heart” means He’s encouraging us to seek Him. What does it mean to seek Him? The Psalmist said, “Verily, thou art a God who hides himself.” I mean, God is not on display everywhere. Some people say, “Well, if He would just talk to me with an audible voice…” Well, the children of Israel saw the fire on Mt. Sinai, they heard the thunderings, and God spoke to them with an audible voice, and before—I mean, they had been taken through the Red Sea, water out a rock, manna every day, and before Moses even got down from the mount with the tables of stone on which God had written the law, they had broken the law and were already worshipping a golden calf that they’ve made and saying, “This is the god that brought us out of Egypt.”
So, Tom, it’s not a matter of how is God going to show Himself to us, it’s going to have to be a matter of the heart, a real desire and a real willingness to know Him. And so the Psalmist said, “As the hart pants after the water brooks,” you know, a hart, a deer that has been chased by a hunter or whatever, and now it comes to a bubbling brook and ice cold, clear water, it is just drinking it in, “so my soul thirsts for you, O God.” Now, this is the kind of passion that God wants us to have, not a casual thing, and there is nothing more worthwhile. Now, why should we have this?
Tom: And can we have it on our own? That’s the question I’m asking.
Dave: Well, it depends on what you mean by “on our own.” I mean, I can’t see God unless He reveals Himself to me, but He will not reveal Himself to me unless I have a genuine sincere, earnest desire to know Him…
Tom: A willingness.
Dave: Right, and He will only reveal Himself to me to the extent that I really want Him to. Now, why is this important? Well, I mean it’s important because what could be more important than to know God, to know that God exists?
On the other hand, “Yeah, but what does that do for me in this life, you know? I want some money, and I want some fun, and I want this and I want that,” and so forth. As the heathen would say, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” So who needs God? Why do I want God? How is that going to… Well, of course you will have far more satisfaction, real pleasure, real joy, from knowing God than you would from anything in this world. But even if you don’t believe that, this life is not all there is, and that’s what we begin to talk about in this first chapter. We can prove that man is not just a physical being.
And, Tom, I do this with people on airplanes, or taxis, or wherever; you can do it in a few minutes.
Tom: Now, Dave, you start out with death. What kind of topic is that? How do you get a conversation going along that line?
Dave: Well, you could start out with you sitting next to someone and say, “What do you think happens after death?” And I’ve asked people that a few times, but that’s kind of morbid. It’s something they don’t want to think about. However, it’s going to happen.
Tom: Well, not only that, we have a generation—that’s my generation—we call it “baby boomers.” We’re in our fifties—late fifties, early sixties. I mean, if we’re not looking or being concerned about that, we must be delirious or something, because the bodies are breaking down.
Dave: Well, but you see many people—and we deal with three possibilities or three theories in this chapter (we mention them, and we deal with them later)—there are those who say, “Well, when you’re dead, you’re dead. So what does it matter? Just get all you can in this life, because that’s all there is.”
Then there are those who say, “Well, no, you do continue on in the spirit world, and you learn your lessons, and you progress (Spiritism), and you evolve higher and higher in the spirit dimension.”
Or then there are those who say, “Well, no, you keep coming back to this earth…”
Tom: Right, reincarnation.
Tom: Not transmigration—oh boy—which is the Eastern mystical idea, but the homogenized American idea of reincarnation. You know, “I used to…in a past life, I used to be a famous figure,” and so on.
Dave: Yeah, well, it is a transmigration of the soul into another body. Like the Dalai Lama, who even got the Nobel Peace Prize, he runs around the world initiating people into Tibetan tantric deity yoga to teach them that they’re all little bodhisattvas, and we’re all little gods who create our own universe, and he claims to be the fourteenth reincarnation of the original Dalai Lama, which is nonsense. He’s teaching people that they can create reality with their minds, but he has to fly on airplanes. They hold umbrellas over him when it rains. He doesn’t escape anything, so it doesn’t work.
Anyway, what are the possibilities? And we deal with the other two in the second chapter. Btu when you’re dead, are you dead? Well, why would you think that? You would only think that—that’s a form of materialism—you would only think that if you believe there’s nothing but the body. But I can prove there’s more than the body very quickly. Thoughts are not physical. When I say “justice,” you know what I mean. What does it weigh? What does it smell like? What does it taste like? What does it look like? What does it sound like? It has nothing to do with the five senses. It has nothing to do with the physical universe in which our bodies function. Your brain, and we’ve talked about this many times, but it’s worth going over again: your brain does not originate your thoughts. If your brain originated your thoughts, you’re a prisoner of your brain, worrying, “What is my brain going to think of next? I’ve got to do whatever my brain thinks of.” Now, that’s nonsense. Whenever I say that to an audience they laugh, burst out laughing. It’s foolish. Well, then who does the thinking? Thoughts are not physical. You are the thinker that lives inside that body, and one day when the body is laid in the grave and it corrodes, rots, and so forth, but that wasn’t the real person. The real person continues to live. We have no reason to believe that the real person no longer thinks, because it puts the thoughts into the brain in order to use the brain to make this body function. But I think it’s the Bobgans who originated the thought: “There’s a difference between tissues of the body and the issues of life.” Tissues know nothing about issues, and we cannot escape that fact. So when the tissues are gone, the issues still survive that were understood, not by the brain, but by the person. So I don’t think there’s anything more important than to face what is going to happen after death. This is what, in the soliloquy I think it is, Shakespeare had one of his characters say, “In that sleep of death what dreams may come, aye, there’s the rub!” That makes cowards of us all, because we can’t be sure that it’s just going to be dreamless sleep, it’ll just be nothingness.
So it’s a very serious issue. That’s why I began there, and this is why we need to seek God. He’s the one that created us. He’s the only one who can truly tell us what is going to happen. And, Tom, I just challenge anybody: give me something that is more important, tell me something that’s more important. The problem is if you listen in on the conversations of most people, even Christians, as they walk out of church, it’s a bunch of trivia, really. And when I look back on my life and I think, Seventy-eight years, wow… Almost 78. Another month—two months. How much time have I spent on trivia—worthless conversation and worthless thoughts—and how much time have I given to that which is going to matter for eternity? It’s a solemn thought.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And certainly, as we’ve been saying, there are those who maybe have not thought where they are going to spend eternity, and that’s really the heart of the book, to give them understanding of what God has said, and what their options are.
Dave: Yeah, we will use reason, we’ll use science, we’ll go to the Bible. Why do we go to the Bible? I often tell people, “You wouldn’t live long enough to study all the world’s religions. I’ll save you a lot of time. Go to the Bible first. The Bible says all the rest of them are wrong. If you can prove the Bible’s true, you’ve saved a lot of time.” And we can prove the Bible is true. It has prophecies. For example, the Hindu Vedas don’t have that, Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana, the Qu’ran…the Bible proves itself, and we’ll take it as our authority. But this is a very important pursuit: the pursuit of God.
Gary: You’ve been listening to a special edition of Search the Scriptures 24/7 with Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. The entire radio discussion of Dave’s book Seeking and Finding God is available on CD and MP3 disc from The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at P.O. Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.