Monday, June 28, 2010

How Near?


The New Testament calls born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ not only to confidence in God, but to confidence in our relationship with Him.

"The Spirit beareth witness with out spirits that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).

"Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).

"He hath made us accepted in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:6).

"His divine power hath given unto us all things which pertaineth to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3).

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-22).

One can rightly believe in the willingness and power of God to mightily involve Himself in our lives. However, if we do not understand and affirm the New Testament's ongoing declaration of how near God has drawn Himself to us in Christ, failure to confidently relate to our Heavenly Father will lead to failure in every other venue of our Christian experience. The promises of Scripture will seem like little more than fanciful whims of philosophy and principle that may apply to somebody somewhere, but which have far too little to do with our personal expectation of genuine godliness in this moment and in the future.

Should the believer expect to obey or disobey God? While acknowledging the possibility and fact of sin in our lives, the New Testament's emphasis calls us to anticipate consistent obedience. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14). Weakness in our doctrinal understanding not only of God Himself, but also our relationship to Him, is the primary reason for erroneous expectation and the too frequent erroneous practice we all would confess. We must rightly believe in the Lord Jesus, and we must rightly believe in the nearness to our Heavenly Father He purchased by His suffering, forsakenness, and death on the cross of Calvary. Our spiritual enemies fight this confidence from the moment of our new birth, and we can be sure they are fighting it right now.

As a dear friend often asks rhetorically, "Whose are we, and who are we?" Growth in the Biblical answer to these vital questions will lead to confidence and joyful relating to God. Upon this basis, we will know Him better, and thus better love, trust, obey, and communicate Him to our world. As we often suggest, in proportionate degree to our Lord's forsakenness on the cross, born again believers are "accepted in the Beloved." Past experience, present feeling, and trepidation about the future must not be the basis of whether and how we approach God in this moment. We come always by the person and work of the Lord Jesus, and as we do, our Heavenly Father effects His ongoing process of changing us into the likeness of the Son with whom we are more closely united than we often allow ourselves to believe.

"Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."
(II Corinthians 6:16)

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