From THE PURSUIT OF GOD)
His text was one which I have loved over the years: Psalm 42:1 "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee O God." (JCS) A biographer said of him : "Seeking truth and seeking God were one and the same thing." Perhaps the continued usefulness of this book can be attributed to the writer’s great spiritual discovery that to seek God does not narrow one’s life, but brings it, rather, to the level of the highest possible fulfillment. In this hour of ALL BUT UNIVERSAL darkness one cheering gleam appears: within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing number of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with "correct interpretations" of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.
Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the Living God. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence.
Christian theology teaches that God must first work in man before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man. Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment within him. Imperfect as it may seem (to the outward eye. JCS) , it is a real and true work nevertheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him.
I want to deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire...Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.
Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activity activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. ... all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all. If we would find God amid all the religious externals, we must first determine to find Him...
The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the church is famishing for lack of His presence. The cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter into the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and God in us. This would lift us out of pitiful narrowness and cause our hearts to be enlarged. This would burn away the impurities from our lives as the bugs and fungi were burned away by the fire when the bush is burned. What a broad world to roam in, what a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We must go beyond the mere idea of God that is so often held, and get to the person of God beyond the creed and theory. We must have reality, instead of going through life trying to love an ideal and be loyal to a creed.
Then I think a new world will arise out of the religious mists when we approach our Bible with the idea that it is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking. If you would follow on to know the Lord, come at once to the open Bible expecting it to speak to you.
I would emphasize that our committal, this one great volitional act establishes the heart’s intention to gaze forever upon Him. God takes this intention for our choice and makes what allowances He must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world. He knows that we have set the direction of our hearts toward Jesus, and we can know it too, and comfort ourselves that a habit is forming wich will become, after a while, a sort of spiritual reflex requiring no more conscious effort on our part.
O Lord, I have heard a good word inviting me to look away to Thee and be satisfied. My heart longs to respond, but sin has clouded my vision till I see Thee but dimly. Be pleased to cleanse me in Thine own precious blood, and make me inwardly pure, so that I may with unveiled eyes gaze upon Thee all the days of my earthly pilgrimage. Then shall I be prepared to behold Thee in full splendor in the day when Thou shalt appear to be glorified in your saints and admired in all them that believe. Amen