Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 8, 1951
NUMBER 27, PAGE 2,5b

"Drawing Near To God"

Max R. Crumley, Temple, Texas

There are some things that we should do simply because it is good for us to do them. We are encouraged to eat certain foods because they are healthful. We stress the proper amount of sleep, and the proper clothing because these are good for our bodies. We refrain from indulging in certain things because they are not good for us.

Man is composed of body and soul. We should be concerned with the well-being of our souls as well as our bodies. The Psalmist points out something that is good for the inner man: "It is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord, God, that I may declare all thy works." (Psa. 73:28) He knew that this was true because of his own experience in drawing near to God. It was good for him. He knew it was true above all because God inspired him to pen these words. There are very good reasons why it is good for man to draw near to God. Some of these reasons engage our attention now.

In drawing near to God man fulfills the purpose for which he was created. Machines are generally invented to perform a specific function. They operate with the greatest efficiency in performing that function for which they were made. Man is not a machine. He is created being endowed with power of reason and freedom of will. Nevertheless he was created for a purpose. He is never nobler or happier than when he is fulfilling the purpose for which God created him. God created man to seek, find and worship Him. (Acts 17:26-27) The first man was created in such matchless perfection that he could walk with God. In walking with God he was supremely happy. He rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory. This man sinned, Sin is "missing the mark" When he thus failed to fulfill the purpose for which he was created he became miserable, wretched and condemned. Man's true purpose here is not to fulfill the desires of the flesh in the pursuit of his sinful way of wild abandon. Such a course thwarts the purpose of God in man. The wages of sin is death. (Rom. 6:32) It is good to come to the end of our earthly pilgrimage knowing assuredly that we have fulfilled our God-given mission in this world of woe.

In drawing near to God one acknowledges the Supreme Being. It is written, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve." It is written again, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Inspiration says, "The Lord our God, he is one God." He is the Lord of heaven and earth, and besides Him there is no other. The inspired writer of the Hebrew letter said, "Without faith it is impossible to be pleasing unto God; for he that cometh must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder to them that diligently seek him." (Heb. 11:6) We need to acknowledge that there is one higher, nobler and stronger than ourselves. We are too prone to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think. We exalt ourselves to a position of gods. This is not good. It is good for us to acknowledge with reverence the Lord of heaven and earth.

In the process of our approaching nigh to God we learn the vital lessons of humility, submission and obedience. The astonishing arrogance and bold insubordination of the Race is appalling! Our generation is not famed for its respect for authority, or its attitude of humility! Pride is a stone of stumbling. "Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall." Pride of life and its glory is stigmatized by the Lord as being of this world sinful. Peter exhorts us to humble ourselves under the hand of the Lord. Jesus humbled himself to become man, live and die in order to redeem us from sin and the pride of this sinful world. Humility makes us like Jesus. It puts us in the proper frame of mind to be taught the truths of God in whom we believe. It works toward our repentance from dead works. It leads us to obedience. We seem to be determined to submit to no one—not even to Jehovah! The spirit of anarchy is the result. This spirit is at the root of all disobedience, civil, social or religious. Jesus learned obedience through suffering. So also must we. Only the obedient are saved. (Mt. 7:21) No man was ever saved in disobedience. We are taught to submit to and obey God. We are taught to submit ourselves to one another in the fear of God. In drawing near to God we learn this principle of submissive obedience.

God is light. His children are near Him. They too, walk in light. Light and purity stand together. Darkness and corruption join hands. In coming near to God one is drawn away from the deadly corruption of the spiritual world of darkness. A Christian is to stand apart from the world. He is to hate even the garments spotted by the flesh. A Christian's robes are white, washed in the blood of Jesus. His soul is vexed, as Lot's soul was, with the filthy manner of life of the wicked. Only in close proximity to God can one escape the contamination of the deadly disease germs of sin emanating from the open putrefaction of the sin-sore world.

It appears that a child, especially a son, wants to know and to resemble his father. He imitates his parents in numerous ways. He is pleased when one lays a hand upon his head and says, "You resemble your father." Every right thinking man wants to be like God. The children of God want to be like their Father and to know Him more intimately. This desire increases with their spiritual growth. It is a wonderful thought that Christians can grow into the image of God's wondrous character. Jesus said, "Be like your Father in heaven." "Be perfect as He is perfect." What is God like? The disciples asked that question, but in a slightly different way. They said, "Show us the Father and it sufficeth us." Jesus said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father." We cannot see the actual body of Jesus, but we have a clear picture of what the real Jesus was like. His life is a perfect example of what God is like, and of what His children can and should be. His holiness is impelling! His goodness is transcendently attractive! We can be like Him—if we draw near to Him.

Man has vast spiritual powers. At times these powers seem dormant. But do not be deceived. These powers demand and seek an outlet. The devil seeks to channelise these faculties into spheres of spiritual darkness. When our souls draw night to God all our spiritual powers seek and find proper outlets into fields of moral and spiritual usefulness. They flow like rivers of living waters into arid regions of humanity to serve our generation in righteousness.

In coming near to God one is conditioned morally to meet the temptations of life victoriously. He has walked with God and talked with Him. He has received the strength of the. Lord. He has been tutored in the proper defense against the attacks of sin. He faces the array of Satan's hosts undaunted and emerges from temptation as did Jesus, triumphantly!

Association with God conditions one spiritually to make the proper evaluations. He sees sin as it is—repulsive and ghastly. He looks beyond the thin veneer of whitewash to the tombs of sin's reality. He places the kingdom of God and His righteousness first in his life. These are greater to him than food, clothing and shelter. He realizes that his soul is worth more than ten thousand worlds like this.

And, so, we are constrained to ask, "How may I draw near to God?" One cannot draw near to God with his lips alone and receive eternal life. Jesus said of some in His day, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." (Mt. 15:8) One's heart must be converted in order to come near to God. We come near to Him through faith. (Heb. 11:6) Our faith must be obedient. (Gal. 5:6) Faith without works is dead. (Jas. 2:26) Our faith must not stand alone. (ha 2:17) Even the devils believe and tremble. (Jas. 2:19) Our faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (Rom. 10:17) One must hear and learn of Jesus in order to come to God. (John 6:45) The sincere believer turns from his sins in repentance before he can stand justified in His sight. Jesus' ultimatum is, "Repent or perish!" (Luke 13:3) The Ethiopian Eunuch eagerly confessed his faith in Jesus as being God's Son in his process of coming to God. (Acts 8:37) Paul tells us that we must draw near to God with "a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." (Heb. 10:22) This passage is explained very simply by the statement of Jesus: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mk. 16:16) So then, in summing up the evidence given, we draw near to God by hearing His Word, believing what we have heard, repenting of our sins, confessing our faith in Jesus and in being baptized into Christ. Then we stand in the presence of Him from whose face the earth and heavens flee away. James wrote: "Draw near to God and he will draw nigh unto you." (Jas. 4:8)

Your life will be nobler, fuller, sweeter when you come near to God, and abiding in His presence in life you may approach death singing: "Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee! E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me; Still all my song shall be, Nearer, My God to Thee, Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee!"