Pages 120-124 of The Salvation Meter book describe the “A Believer Hungers and Thirsts for God” test of salvation. This test is found in Chapter 6, which deals with a believer’s post-conversion spiritual condition. This article at https://thesalvationmeter.com website is a revision of the earlier discussion and questions in the book that pertain to this test of salvation. There are two basic reasons I wrote this revision.
First, a sermon is never finished merely preached. In the same way, there will always be ways to revise and improve the discussion of the “A Believer Hungers and Thirsts for God” test of salvation. Second, I hope this revision will assist anyone who reads, teaches, preaches, or merely considers the substance of this test to better appreciate the principles taught by this test of salvation.
The “Believer Hungers and Thirsts for God” is a significant test of salvation that indicates a person’s spiritual condition. While a believer’s “hunger and thirst” for God can be intangible, demonstrable evidence establishes the existence of such a hunger and thirst. A person who does not have a hunger and thirst for God may very well be lost. On the other hand, it is persuasive evidence of salvation if a person displays a hunger and thirst for God.
Most of us can recall something we hungered and thirsted after. The object of our craving became a significant focus of our life. I won a sectional qualifier many years ago to gain entrance in the USGA Mid-Amateur golf tournament. It was a thrill to tee it up in a national-level competition on a golf course, the difficulty of which was over my head. Even though I missed the cut to make match play, I left the tournament with a hunger and thirst for more tournament golf. The following season I played in several events with less than stellar success. My enthusiasm waned so that my golf “career” became history. Yet, I still recall my intangible hunger and thirst for more and more.
Upon conversion, many things change between God and a believer. One significant change is the existence of a menō (abiding) relationship between God and a believer. See the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation on pages 106-110 of The Salvation Meter book. The longer a believer abides in God, the greater their hunger and thirst for God should be.
Upon conversion, there is fellowship between a believer and God the Father and God the Son that should bring about a desire to know God better. In addition, God has done and still does so much for believers that their natural reaction is to want more of God. God is infinite, so a believer’s quest to know better and want more of God is never-ending. There will always be a need for God in a believer’s life that relates to the “A Believer Hungers and Thirsts for God” test of salvation.
Psalm 42:1-2 and Psalm 63:1
The Psalmist focused on his craving for God when he wrote Psalm 42:1–2 (ASV 1901), which reads:
1 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, So panteth my soul after thee, O God. 2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 42:1-2 described the Psalmist’s insatiable intensity for God. The Psalmist wrote that his soul “panteth” after and “thirsteth” for God who is “the living God.” The ASV 1901 translates both usages of the Hebrew verb ʿrg as “panteth.” The Logos 9 sense is desire ⇔ pant – to strongly desire something, conceived of as panting. Another way to characterize the verb s to long for. The ASV 1901 translates the Hebrews verb ṣmʾ as “thirsteth.” The Logos 9 sense is to yearn ⇔ thirst – to yearn for something, conceived of as thirsting for it.
His metaphor that a deer pants for streams of water carries with it a picture of extreme thirst and desire. For a thirsty deer, water was necessary to sustain life. The Psalmist expressed his desire to “come and appear before God.” He was willing to make the necessary effort to satisfy his hunger and thirst. For the Psalmist, God was necessary to sustain his life. A hunger and thirst for God is the natural consequence of knowing one’s desperate need for God.
David expressed a similar need for God when he wrote Psalm 63:1 (ASV 1901), which reads:
1 O God, thou art my God; earnestly will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, In a dry and weary land, where no water is.
Looking at this verse, we first see that David characterized God as “my God,” reflecting his fellowship with God. David wrote he shall seek God earnestly. The ASV 1901 translates the Hebrew verb šḥr as “earnestly will I seek.” The Logos 9 sense is seek – to try to get or reach something one desires. His efforts to seek God were not half-hearted but earnest and intense. David’s efforts to seek God were similar to the request in Psalm 42:2b of, “When shall I come and appear before God?”
When David wrote, “My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee” he referenced the entirety of his being. His soul was his immaterial part, and his flesh was his material part. In his quest for God, David was going to “leave it all on the field.” By acknowledging that he was in a dry and weary land where there was no water, David understood his vital need for God, i.e., spiritual nourishment. He understood that only God could satisfy his need.
For the 21st Century believer, God is essential to maintain their spiritual life so that they must hunger and thirst for God. This is especially true because of the moral cesspool American society has become.
The Mindset of a Believer Per Matthew 5:6
As a part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the expression “hunger and thirst” as recorded in Matthew 5:6 (ASV 1901), which reads:
6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
The ASV 1901 translates the Greek verb peinaō as “they that hunger” and the Greek verb dipsaō as “thirst after.” In reference to both usages, Louw et al. says they are, “figurative extensions of meaning of διψάωa ‘to thirst,’ 23.39, and πεινάωa ‘to hunger,’ 23.29) to have a strong desire to attain some goal, with the implication of an existing lack—‘to desire strongly.” See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). In Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 290). United Bible Societies. Peinaō and dipsaō are in the present tense, the verb tense where the writer portrays an action in process or a state of being with no assessment of the action’s completion. See Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.
The Greek noun διψάω (Louw et a. 23.29) means to be in a state of hunger, without any implications of particular contributing circumstances—‘to be hungry, to have hunger. See Louw et al. supra at Vol. 1, p. 252. The Greek noun πεινάω (Louw et al. 23.39) means the state resulting from not having drunk anything for a period of time—‘to be thirsty, thirst. See Louw et al. supra at Vol. 1, p. 253.
In this verse, the “hunger and thirst” is extreme which, in essence, equates to being insatiable. Even though the “hunger and thirst” is after righteousness, it describes the mindset of a believer who has a hunger and thirst for God.
It is in the DNA of a believer to want to know better the One through whom they received eternal life. Each one of Psalm 42:1-2 and Psalm 63:1 articulates the yearning for God that a 21st Century believer ought to possess. Matthew 5:6 enhances the description of what a believer’s hunger and thirst for God should look like.
Amos 8:11–13 (ASV 1901) describes the hopelessness of God’s silence:
11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah. 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it. 13 In that day shall the fair virgins and the young men faint for thirst.
One commentator discusses the hopelessness of receiving no word from God:
Worse than strong words of judgment from the Lord is no word from the Lord, an ominous and foreboding silence. To receive no word from God in response to cries for help meant that God had hidden his face from them, rejected and abandoned them to their enemies.
Smith, B. K., & Page, F. S. (1995). Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (Vol. 19B, p. 151). Broadman & Holman Publishers.
A believer should always want more of God. Therefore, a believer’s hunger and thirst for God should be so extreme that they will “run to and fro to seek God.”
The “A Believer Hungers and Thirsts for God” test of salvation raises the following questions for you to answer.
Question 6-1: What does the expression “hunger and thirst for God” mean to you? Please explain your answer and include a description in concrete terms of the images that come to mind when you ponder the expression “hunger and thirst for God.” You may consider the thirsty deer alongside a refreshing stream of water or the weary traveler in the desert who comes upon an oasis. You may want to factor in a situation like my golfing exploits in which you experienced a huge desire for something.
Question 6-2: Do you hunger and thirst for God in the part of you that thinks, feels, and wills? Is your hunger and thirst for God constant? Would you please explain your answers?
Question 6-3: When you hunger and thirst for God, do you describe God as “my God?” Do you see God as your personal God? Do you see your relationship with God as personal? Would you please explain your answer.
Question 6-4: Are you impatient to satisfy your hunger and thirst for God? Would you please explain your answer.
Question 6-5: Is your hunger and thirst for God increasing or decreasing or does it remain constant? What factors cause your hunger and thirst for God to increase? What factors cause your hunger and thirst for God to decrease? Would you say it is normal for you to hunger and thirst for God to remain constant? Would you please explain your answers.
Question 6-6: Are you intentional about trying to satisfy your hunger and thirst for God? Please explain your answer and include a description of actions you take or plan to take to satisfy your hunger and thirst for God. Are you accountable to anyone to take these actions?
Question 6-7: Do you feel closer to God when you try to satisfy your hunger and thirst? Please explain your answer.
Question 6-8: Do you experience a feeling of remoteness from God when you do not try to satisfy your hunger and thirst? Please explain your answer.
Question 6-9: Do you experience spiritual droughts? Please explain your answer and include in your explanation a cause of the drought and a description of any steps you took (or take) to escape the drought.
Question 6-10: Do you experience spiritual monsoons? Please explain your answer and include in your explanation a cause of the monsoon and a description of any steps you took (or take) to bring on the monsoon.
Question 6-11: Do you satisfy the “A Believer Hungers and Thirsts for God” test of salvation? Please explain your answer and include evidence that supports your answer. Do you strongly agree, moderately agree, moderately disagree, strongly disagree or are neutral about the statement that you satisfy “A Believer Hungers and Thirsts for God” test of salvation? Please record your answer at Indicator 6-A of your Personal Salvation Assessment in the Appendix.
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