The Sinner Invited to Seek God
Francis Bourdillon, 1864
Seek the Lord while He may be found — and call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts — and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth — so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
God speaks in His Word — not to the righteous only, but also to the wicked. What does He say to them? He sets before them the evil of their doings — and warns them that if they continue in sin, they must surely perish eternally. But He also speaks to them of mercy and forgiveness — and invites them to turn to Him.
How gracious! After so many sins, so much neglect — He might well cast them off, turn away from their prayers, and leave them to themselves. But He does not do so. Even now He . . .
seeks them out,
sends them kind invitations,
offers them mercy, and
calls them to Himself.
They are poor, helpless sinners — and can do nothing to atone for the past; yet, lost sinners as they are — He calls them. See, He speaks here to the wicked — to the unrighteous man. Just as he is, in his present state — the Lord speaks to him. All unworthy and sin-stained, with the load of years of iniquity upon him — the Lord speaks to him and bids him to seek Him.
"Seek the Lord while He may be found — and call upon Him while He is near." He may be found then — He is near. Yes, He may still be found by every sinner who will seek Him — He is still near to all who will call upon Him. Now, today, He is near — He may be found. Happy for poor sinners, that it is so! He might have been far away — so that no prayer could reach Him. He might have gone forever — so that He could no longer be found. But this is not the case. He is near. He may be found. And that — by all, by you.
Seek Him — call upon Him. If you never sought Him before — then seek Him now. If you never in all your life called upon Him — then call upon Him today. Do it at once, without delay — while it may be done. For the time will come when He will not be near — when He will not be to be found. "Then shall they call upon Me — but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early — but they shall not find Me." But that awful time has not yet come. Oh! Seek Him before it comes!
Seek Him and call upon Him in earnest — not merely with the lips, but with the heart, in sincerity and truth.
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts." Let there be no vain idea of obtaining mercy — and at the same time cleaving to sin. Let there be a real change — a real forsaking of sin — a real giving up of all that is evil, even in thought.
"Abhor that which is evil." Thus let the unrighteous man return unto the Lord. Not seeking to come as righteous, for he cannot do so. He is unrighteous — and as unrighteous he must come. He can only be made righteous by coming. But let him come in sorrow for his sins, bewailing and lamenting his past life, and earnestly desiring to forsake every evil way.
Then God will have mercy upon him. The gospel tells us more of this, than even the words of the prophet show. God gave His dear Son to die for sinners — and for His sake, He will have mercy on all who sincerely come. Let the sinner come pleading the Name of Jesus, and looking in faith to Him — and He will certainly find mercy. Not because he deserves it, not because he has any ground in himself to expect it — but because Jesus shed His blood upon the cross and thus made open the way of reconciliation and peace.
This mercy will be shown in that which the sinner needs above all — the pardon of his sins. Let all besides, be offered to one who feels the burden of his sins; without pardon — all could not give him comfort. Pardon is his first need — to have his load of guilt removed and his sins blotted out, and thus to find peace of conscience. This is what God will give to the returning sinner for Christ's sake. "He will abundantly pardon."
What! Pardon all? Yes, all. "Abundantly pardon" — fully, completely, bountifully. So that if his sins were as many as the sands on the seashore — this pardon should cover them all. Thus God pardons for Christ's sake. Not a little, not by halves, but "abundantly."
Yet sinners doubt. Even those who feel the burden of their sins and are truly sorry for them and earnestly desire to be forgiven — often doubt this full and free pardon. Their sins are so many, sins against light and knowledge, sins against conscience, sins against their own resolutions, repeated sins, long-continued sins — how can they hope that sins so many and so great will be forgiven? Man does not forgive so. They themselves would not expect to be forgiven, if they had so deeply offended a fellow-creature. How can they hope that God will forgive?
The doubt, the fear, is met and answered, and that by God Himself. True, man would not forgive so — but God is not like man. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Man's mercy and compassion are no measure for God's mercy and compassion. Man will forgive a little — but God forgives all. Man may pardon sparingly — but God pardons abundantly. The sinner has to do with God — not with man; and God will forgive in His own way — far above all our ways and all our thoughts!
Oh, take this message as coming from God to you. It comes to you as a sinner — it comes from Him who knows all that you are, and all that you have done — yet it offers you mercy and pardon, abundant pardon. It calls you to turn from sin to God — to turn to Him, not as an angry Judge, but as a merciful and gracious Father in Christ Jesus. Let not a sense of sin keep you away from God. He calls you to turn to Him — though He knows just what you are, that you may be forgiven all. The blood of Jesus was shed to take away sin. It is sufficient to take away your sin — all of your sin. It will take away your sin — if you humbly seek it. Believe this.
It is Satan that would lead you to doubt. God would have you believe. He says to you, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ — and you shall be saved."
But, once more, remember it must be now. Time passes quickly. Your time here may be short. Let not a day more be lost. God seeks you, calls you, and offers you mercy and pardon in Christ, full and free. But all is for today — not for tomorrow. "Seek the Lord while He may be found — and call upon Him while He is near." He may be found — He is near, today. Oh, seek Him today — call upon Him now!