If we are to come after God, it’s important that we know Who or What we seek.

Doctrine is about understanding certain facts about God, ourselves, and our relationship to Him. Until we understand our true situation we can’t appreciate what He has actually done for us, why He’s done it, and what our response should be.

A seeker of truth must be quite ruthless with him or herself, and be constantly aware of their own tendency to project their personal preferences into their belief systems. For to believe a doctrine that is merely agreeable to is to make God in our own image. It’s do-it-yourself religion.

A starting point would be to determine the reliability of the Bible and its authority. Is is really God’s word, or just the creation of a particular culture? What does it tell us about people and God? How does it relate to the world we see?

The Bible tells us a number of uncomfortable truths about ourselves, things not agreeable to human nature.

It tells us of a good God, the source of all sensible statements about the worth of all people and the goodness of creation.

It tells us of how we should treat others. So far, so good.

But then it tells us we break that moral law (as does experience), and are guilty before Him; and that the abuse of our free will has separated us from Him.

It tells us of what He did to make a way back, and how we can freely choose to return on His terms: by changing direction and choosing to trust in Christ’s atoning work and resurrection instead of relying on our own efforts.

This understanding is key. We need to understand we can’t save ourselves, or even change our own hearts. We need to distrust our own motives, and to understand our constant need of His grace.

But we can then look past our brokenness… to HIM. The redeemed soul understands its situation, but also knows that He’s saved us, not because we deserved it, but simply because He is love. And that because of that we are truly safe, and truly saved.

It tells us that the very power of death is broken, and that we have an eternal hope.

We need to hold these as truths in our hearts before we can come to God for mercy and supply. To do otherwise is to not know what to ask for and to tell Him there are parts of our lives He is not allowed in to.

The gospel is radical. God wants our whole heart, and will use life’s trials to keep us coming to Him for help. The changing our hearts in practical fact is God’s work, and He will make us into true sons and daughters if we will let Him.