Salvation comes from what is heard, Paul says.
“Adam, where are you?” God asks in the garden.
What God’s question reveals about you is that you are sought. God is not the object of your seeking. I know lots of churches like to have what are called “seeker services,” but let’s get real. We’re hiding in the bushes. On our own, left to our own devices, whatever is at the end of our searching might be a little-g god but it will not be God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth.
You are sought. We do not seek out God. We seek out a hiding place from him. We do not search for God. God searches for us. And this is important, this distinction between seeking and being sought, because it shapes how you read scripture.
Every other religion in the world is about you seeking after God (and doing what you ought to do to get closer to him), but the strange new world of the Bible, Karl Barth says, is that it tells, from beginning to end, of God’s search for us.
If you’re looking to the Bible for insights into history or politics, Karl Barth says, you’d do better to turn to the newspaper because those are not questions the Bible tries to answer. If you’re looking for teachings on morality, ethics, justice, virtue, or just everyday practical advice, good luck with that, Karl Barth says, because you’ll find large swaths of scripture useless and Jesus Christ has absolutely no interest in your everyday practical life.
If you go to the Bible searching for how you can find God, you’re only going to walk away frustrated, Barth says.
The Bible does not tell us what to think about God; it tells us what God thinks of us The Bible does not teach us what we should say about God; it teaches us what God says about us. The Bible does not show us how to seek God; it shows us this God who searches out those who will not come to him.
The Bible, says Barth, is God’s search history not ours. “Adam, where are you?” God’s question to you reveals to you that you are found.
Barth says that Adam and Eve aren’t just the first humans, they’re the first Christians. They’re the first Christians, for they are the first ones to receive the gospel promise of the forgiveness of sins.
And what this question from God conveyed to them, it conveys to you: the entire forgiveness of your sins. Because remember— God’s word works; that is, God’s word in scripture always accomplishes what it says.
For you nerds, you can put it this way: there is no ontological distance between what God says and what God does. God says “Let there be light” and there’s light. God says “It is very good” and it is. God in Jesus Christ says “Your sins are forgiven” and therefore, as surely as his word hung the stars in the sky, you are forgiven. God’s word works. It accomplishes what it says.
To have God ask you “______, where are you?” is to already be found. To have God search for you is to already be found. Even though you’re still hiding in plain sight, still estranged in shame and sin, still you are found.
So… why are you still hiding?