Christian Living · Repentance · Sin

The God Who Is Near

There is a beautiful Christian song that includes the cherished line: “He was there all the time.”God was there during the good times and the bad. God was there when, as children, the will was first exercised in defiance of parental authority and sin was consciously expressed. God was there when the years of teenage rebellion were embraced, and the teachings of the church and the home were mocked. God was there when the forbidden relationships were entered, and the pleasures of sin were first tasted. God was there when the horrors of sin were finally discovered, for Satan always makes his victims pay. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

The world, the flesh, and the Devil demand much for what little they give. A thousand laughs turns to ten thousand tears, but regrets are not enough.

Sin demands sorrow and shame, broken hearts, and cruel words spoken. Sin is an evil task master that mocks when a person is in the gutter of life and says, “More.” Sin can so capture and dominate a soul the only escape seems to be suicide, but even after that act the soul awakes in eternity to find sin still mocking, but this time it is the mad laughter of the damned. Jesus spoke of a man in hell who lifted up his eyes, “being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:23, 24). There is no pleasure, there is no laughter in divine judgment.

But there is still time to escape the wrath of God. The way of escape is marked, “Repentance”. God demands that all men repent. While there is, and should be a measure of conscious shame mingled with Biblical repentance, the purpose of repentance is for a glorious cause, and that is the salvation and restoration of the soul to fellowship with God and with others.

Would you know God physically? Repent. There is a wonderful sense of His presence that will engulf you as you seek Him. Pray, “Lord, speak to me.” Would you know God emotionally? Repent. The broken heart God moves to heal. Do not come to God with your intellect alone. Sin is not in the abstract, for Sin is personal, real and horrible. Dried eye conversions produce drier lives. Even Jesus on Calvary’s Cross cried out because of the sins poured out in judgment upon Him. Godly sorrow worketh repentance. Would you know God mentally? Repent. The Bible tells us about those like Enoch who walked with God. Men and women and children down through the ages have entered into such close communion with the Creator that they believe God spoke to them and they to Him.

I still believe men can talk to God. That is why I pray. I believe that our church family can talk to God. That is why we have a prayer meeting each Wednesday night. I also believe that God speaks to people today.

He speaks by the Words of Holy Scripture. He speaks by the conviction of the conscience. He speaks by the church. Someone says something at just the right time and it meets the need of the heart. However, to hear the Lord speak, to know Him personally, a person must enter into His kingdom by the way of the Cross.

Finally, would you know God spiritually? Repent. The Bible says that God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth. There are external things we do to enhance an atmosphere and attitude of worship.

We sing songs, have moments of meditation, pray, preach sermons, and we witness to others. But having done all of that we have not worshipped God unless our inner spirit touches His with a longing to adore Him.

It is a great paradox that God can be so near and yet so far away. We can understand this concept. A man and a woman can be married and yet live together without any respect, romance, or civil response. They are near and yet far away.

I have heard of boys tying two alley cats together by the tail. The cats then had union but no communion. People can have a superficial union with God through religion and still not have any communion with God. Would you know God? Would you have communion with Him? Repent.

Perhaps there are secret sins that are keeping you from enjoying the love of God. What are private sins on earth is an open scandal in heaven. Perhaps there are open sins that need to be put away. Repent. Turn from them and find for yourself that God is not far from any of us.

While studying about the love of God I have found it interesting that there are very few passages that directly record God saying, “I love you.” His love is referred to mostly in the past tense. There is one exception, and it is found in the Greek text of Revelation 1: 5. The Revelation is from “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loves us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” The Biblical message comes through loud and clear. God loves us. Indeed, God is not far from every one of us (Acts 17:27).

P. P. Bliss, the evangelistic singer and composer, said that he wrote the sacred song, “Oh! How I Love Jesus!” when he was a young man. Growing older he realized more deeply God’s great love for man. So he sat down and wrote these words:

“I am so glad that our Father in heaven,
Tells of His love in the Book He has given.
Wonderful things in the Bible I see,
This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.”

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