Summary: God works in each life to draw us to Himself.
Today, we're going to begin looking at the various aspects of God's Grace - Saving Grace; Sanctifying Grace; Sustaining Grace; Surpassing Grace; and Seeking Grace. Often, when we think of people coming to Christ, we speak of those who are "seekers." Indeed, many are looking for meaning, but they are looking everywhere but to God.
"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself." - Blaise Pascal, French Theologian
In other words, every person has a "God-shaped hole in his heart" that only a personal relationship with God can fill. Mankind is involved in a fruitless search to fill that "God-shaped hole" with everything but God. This is what Scripture tells us about the human race. That left to our own devices, we will look to anything for fulfillment but to God:
"There is no one who seeks God." - Romans 3:11b (NIV)
Scripture says the real seeker is God. God seeks to draw us to Himself.
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness." - Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)
This Seeking Grace we're talking about is referred to by theologians as Prevenient Grace. The word "prevenient" means, “to come before.” So Seeking Grace means God is present throughout our lives - from our conception to conversion. It's the love of God wooing us; it's the desire of God pursuing us; it's the gift of God freeing us; it's the will of God drawing us; and finally, it's the activity of God empowering us to choose Christ as our Savior. (READ TEXT)
"The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me - that’s the only way you’ll ever come." - John 6:44 (The Message)
1. God created us with a love relationship in mind.
"Long before He laid down the earth’s foundation, He had us in His mind and settled on us as the focus of His love to be made whole and holy by His love." - Ephesians 1:4 (The Message)
Man was made to be loved by God. God’s intent was for man to know Him in growing love relationship and lead all creation to glorify Him. But love isn’t love unless it is freely given. So God also created man with the capacity for free will. But free will is meaningless unless there's an opportunity to choose. So God told man he could eat of every tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
"And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'" - Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV)
Adam & Eve disobeyed God and their sin was passed on to us, so every person is a sinner by birth, who eventually becomes a sinner by choice.
"Men are not sinners because they choose to sin; they choose to sin because they are sinners." - Walter J. Chantry
There was nothing magical about the fruit man partook of that made him a sinner. It was the choice represented by choosing the fruit that brought about man’s ruin. In choosing the fruit, man chose . . .
A. Bondage over freedom (circle phrase "You are free")
Mankind is in bondage to sin. We owe a debt that must be paid, that we can never pay on our own. We’ll talk more about this in a moment.
B. Anarchy over authority (circle "knowledge of good & evil")
Man chose to know for himself what was good and evil, instead of taking God’s Word for it. Thus, every man was left to do what was right in his own eyes, which has led to the chaos we see today.
"What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter." - Isaiah 5:20 (NLT)
C. Death over life (circle "you will certainly die")
Literally, God told them, "dying, you will die." Man would immediately know spiritual death, as his relationship with God would be severed, both for all time and all eternity; and would eventually know physical death. This death was passed on to all creation. But there’s good news: God has come to our rescue.