Gary: Now, Contending for the Faith. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Brothers in Christ, In past programs I have been greatly edified by your discussions of what seem to be contradictions in the Bible. Here is another one I hope you will address: In Romans:3:11, it says that ‘there is none that understandeth. There is none that seeketh after God.’ Yet in Jeremiah:29:13 it says, ‘And ye shall seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart.’ How is this reconciled?”
Tom: And Dave, we read Romans:3:11—Gary just quoted, “There’s none that seeketh after God,” talking about the condition of mankind. But it gets worse. Picking up with verse 14: “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their ways, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This seems to be talking about the condition of man. This seems to indicate he can’t seek after God. But on the other hand, God says, “Seek after Me, and you shall find Me.”
Dave: Tom, let me clarify something from the questioner, first of all. It said he enjoyed our discussion of contradictions in the Bible. But we weren’t confirming contradictions in the Bible. We are correcting the fact that there are no contradictions in the Bible.
Tom: Just a misperception that there are…
Dave: Very good. So, we get that clear with our listeners out there. And this is not a contradiction either. You could go to a verse in Ecclesiastes, for example, that says, “Draw us, and we will run after thee.” So, yes, in our natural state, man is corrupt— he’s perverted, we have no thought for anyone but ourselves. We have no thought for God. And we don’t even want to know God. But God, as Pascal said, “has put a God-shaped vacuum in our hearts.” We have a sense of something missing within us, and although our natural bent is to be materialistic—to seek selfish satisfactions in this material world. So we don’t seek after God; yet God seeks us! And He draws us, and as He draws us with His Word—I mean, this is what the Bible’s all about: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” God is revealing Himself. God called Abraham, for example. It doesn’t say that Abraham was a seeker after God. It says that God called him. It doesn’t say that Saul of Tarsus was seeking Jesus Christ, but Jesus arrested him on the road to Damascus, and brought Saul of Tarsus to the point of being Paul the apostle, where he could say, “Oh, that I might know him!” That this was his passion and his desire.
So, it’s not a contradiction. It’s telling us what we are by nature, and what we would be if God left us to ourselves. But when God calls us and reveals His truth to us, we certainly can rationally respond. We can evaluate the evidence, as we’ve been trying to do, just in the earlier segment on this program.
Tom: Right. Dave, some who lean on this verse, that is chapter 3:11 of Romans, they would say this indicates that man is so totally depraved that he can’t respond. That God has to do something because this man is dead spiritually—there’s nothing he can do.
Dave: Yeah, Tom…
Tom:…yet God keeps pleading. I mean, I could give you verse after verse, where He said, “Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment. Seek righteousness, seek meekness.” How could God say that if we can’t respond?
Dave: I know this is a controversial item, and I have friends who are on the other side. There are good people on both sides. But I think biblically and rationally, there’s only one way you can go. There are two points that you’re making here: 1) Why does the Bible—why is the Bible full of pleas for man to choose? You turn the whole Bible into a charade if man can’t really choose. If he is so totally depraved that he can’t respond to God, and yet, all through the Bible, God pleads! He sends His prophets, He pleads with His people to repent! But they can’t possibly repent, they’re so totally depraved, according to this view.
So, what is the point of pleading with people to repent who can’t repent? Now, they could repent, according to this Calvinistic view, if God would extend—and only if God would extend—irresistible grace to them. Then we have a God who is—I’m sorry! Some kind of a…is He playing games with us? Is He mocking us?
Tom: It’s a charade, in fact.
Dave: Yeah! He’s pleading with us to turn to Him. But we can’t, unless He extends irresistible grace. But He won’t extend irresistible grace except to certain elect. Well, then, on what basis does He decide to give irresistible grace to the elect and not to others? Why are they His elect? You cannot find a rational or biblical explanation for this. God is no respecter of persons, and there’s no reason within any of us why He would do this. Tom, I’m sorry! It’s like you’re in the bottom of a well, and I’m holding a dangling rope thirty feet above your head, and I’m pleading with you, “Tom, please! Please! Take ahold of it! I want to take you out!” But I’ve got it thirty feet above your head. You’d think I was mocking you! And how could I explain to other people that I really want to take you out of that well, but you’re the one who doesn’t want to come out of that well. It doesn’t make sense, and I don’t think it’s biblical.
Tom: So there is no contradiction. God does plead with people, and He draws people to Him, and we are able to respond by His grace, which He provides for all.