Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"How Near?" Part 2

(We continue our consideration of the truth that believers are called not only to confidence in God, but to confidence in the relationship He has provided for us in Christ).

It is not enough to believe in the willingness and power of God to act on our behalf. We must also believe the assurance declared by His Word that we are inseparably united to the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ "by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand" (Ephesians 5:2). We must believe the truth about our relationship to God.

This may be more challenging than our basic confidence in God because relationship involves not only our perspective of Him, but of ourselves. We know that He perfectly fulfills His role, but we also know that we do not. Our sins and failures either whisper or scream to us that it is absurd to think that we might confidently relate to our Heavenly Father. The world, the devil, and the flesh join the chorus, and if our doctrinal understanding of Christ's atoning work on our behalf is limited or inadequate, chances are small that we will consistently avail ourselves of our freely given relationship with God. Just as tragic, the spiritual growth and change that results from such fellowship with our Lord will not be fulfilled. This leads to even less communication, which leads to a progressively downward spiritual spiral. The end result is a nominal Christian experience that bears little resemblance to the joyful holiness promised by the New Testament. "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

In our best spiritual moments, our access to God is "by faith into this grace wherein we stand." In our worst spiritual moments, our access to God is "by faith into this grace wherein we stand." The same is true of all other moments. Consistently faithful obedience certainly makes it more likely that we will walk in close fellowship with God. But it does not secure or maintain our access to Him. Unbelief and disobedience make it less likely that we will commune with God. But such carnality does not bar our access to God. Ever and always, the Lord Jesus alone is our access. He is the "way." He is the "door." He is the "mediator" whereby we "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith" (John 14:6; 10:9; I Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:22). If we come by Him, we may come in this moment, and in all moments forevermore.

If we encountered the most wayward believer in the world (if such a thing could be measured), what should our message be as we attempt to restore our brother? The answer would doubtless involve numerous aspects of God's truth directed to the specific circumstances and condition of the fallen one. First and foremost, however, attention must be directed to the Lord Jesus. What, as it were, are His circumstances and conditions? And what is His relationship to our brother, and our brother's relationship to Him? True and abiding restoration is only possible as these holy issues originate and guide the restorative process because neglect of them originated and guides our brother's waywardness. Ever and always, Christ is the heart of the matter, and the matter of the heart. Restoration happens through Him, or it does not happen at all.

We live in a generation distracted from the truth that the Lord Jesus is to have the preeminence in all things (Colossians 1:18). Let us be sure that we are not carried along in the deadly tide that drowns living and vibrant relationship with God. Again, we come to our Heavenly Father by the person and work of His Son, and by the inviolable relationship He provides as "He ever liveth to make intercession for us" (Hebrews 7:25). May our Lord grant much light and remembrance to us of this most blessed truth that fills our hearts with the wonder of His Person, and our hands and feet with His holy character.

"This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent...This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."
(John 17:3; I John 5:11)

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