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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 64 - James 4:8 - God's Delight to Bless the Sinner Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

LXIV.

 

God's Delight To Bless The Sinner.

 

"Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you."-James 4:8.

 

 

     At the outset, let me remind you of the following passages: 'Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out;' 'Ye who were afar off are made nigh;' 'Let us come boldly to the throne of grace;' 'Let us draw near with a true heart;' 'To Thee shall all flesh come.'

     Here is a very wide invitation, an explicit command, and a gracious promise.

     I. A wide invitation.-'Draw nigh to God.' The word 'draw nigh,' addressed to Jews, must have sounded strangely; for their Scriptures taught them that they were already 'near to God' (Numbers 10:10). Yet they needed something more than this. There was a drawing nigh which they needed as well as the Gentiles who were afar off. This drawing nigh refers, (1) to reconciliation generally; and (2) to every act of prayer. We are 'made nigh by the blood of Christ:' this is the reconciliation. But even for those who are thus nigh, there is a constant drawing nigh in prayer. There is, first, 'Be reconciled;' and then there is, 'Pray without ceasing;' 'Let us come boldly to the throne of grace.' The invitation of our text takes in both of these classes. It is a very wide invitation in itself, quite unrestricted; and it assumes a still wider aspect when we notice the characters of those to whom it was addressed. Though called 'Christians' and 'brethren,' they seem to have been truly a mixed multitude. There was much among them of the faith that was 'dead,' of the spirit of strife and ambition (3:1), of the unruly tongue, of bitter envying and strife, of envy and pride. It is strange to hear the apostle saying to them, 'Ye lust, and have not; ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain; ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts; ye adulterers and adulteresses.' To such it is that he says, 'Submit yourselves to God; resist the devil, and he will flee from you; cleanse your hands, ye sinners; purify your hearts, ye double-minded.' Nay, to such it is that he says, 'Draw nigh to God.' This surely is the very gospel itself: it is so wide, and full, and gracious. It is the very 'Come unto Me' of Jesus; 'Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.' It takes for granted our natural distance from God, and that even those who come nigh are constantly relapsing into distance; but it forbids none. It says to none, You are too far off to be brought nigh. It says to all, 'Draw nigh;' yes, just as you are, 'draw nigh to God.' God Himself invites, nay, beseeches. He has no pleasure in your remaining afar off. He truly wishes you to draw nigh. He knows that distance from Him is sorrow and darkness; that nearness is joy and light. Therefore He invites and entreats. He says not only, 'Look unto Me,' or, 'Listen to Me,' but 'Draw near,'-ask, seek, knock.  He sends out His invitation in many ways, all of them expressive of His tenderness, His yearning, His longsuffering, His gentle, patient love. He wants you to ask, and is grieved at your not asking. Hear His urgent invitation to you, and draw near. It is spoken to you, O man! to you, O sinner! whatever you may be, and however far off. The Father sends His message to His prodigal. He knows that nowhere save in His house, and with Himself, can you be happy or safe. He is in earnest; and His invitation is a wide one,-wide as the name of man and sinner. 'Draw nigh to God.' Seek, and ye shall find. Your not seeking displeases Him; your seeking is what He desires, and will own.

     II. An explicit command.-'This is His commandment,' that men should 'draw near.' The words of our text are very explicit, as such. God speaks to us here with authority, claiming obedience. Distance from God is disobedience. In drawing near, we obey. Who, then, can ask, May I come? Am I at liberty to draw near as I am? Most certainly; and if your remaining afar off is an act of resistance and disobedience, you dare not do otherwise than draw near. Though God is not speaking to you from Sinai, yet the command is no less explicit and imperative. Do not disobey. Do not resist. Do not make excuses of any kind for a moment's delay, specially the excuses of a fancied humility, that you are not fit, nor ready, nor worthy. 'Draw near' is the divine command, O sinner!

     III.  The gracious promise.-He will draw nigh to you. The drawing nigh includes in it such things as these:-

     (1.) Reconciliation.-It is for the healing of the breach, the reconciliation, that we come to God, and that God comes to us.

     (2.) Friendship.-Entrance on a perpetual, never-ending friendship. All nearness, confidence, happy intercourse now.

     (3.) Safety.-Nearness to God is security. We abide under the shadow of His wing. No enemy can wound us there.

     (4.) Blessedness.-Nearness is blessedness; for it is nearness to Him who is love; nearness to the rivers of pleasure; nearness to the fountain of joy and life.

     The promise itself, as here put and presented to us by God, is-

     (1.) Very gracious.-It is God speaking out to us His own free love, as of old: 'Return to Me, and I will return to you. Do not suppose Me backward in such a matter, or less eager to meet you than you are to meet Me. Your drawing nigh of itself has been the fruit of My having already drawn nigh to you. You could not, would not have thought of such a thing, had I not put it into your heart.' The faintest wish or sigh after God is created by Himself. Not a foot has any soul ever advanced to God, till God had advanced to him, and drawn him. What encouragement is here to every one that is seeking God! Was it ever heard that a man sought, and did not find? Seekers are always finders.

     (2.) Very sufficient.-It comprehends everything, and it pledges everything. For what is there that is not contained in God drawing nigh to us? What will He not do for those to whom He draws nigh? How full, how ample, is this promise! how direct, how personal, is the way in which it is put! How large and full in His promises is the Lord our God!

     (3.) Very certain.-As certain as if God had given His oath; as certain as God can make it. His word is pledged. His love assures us. His tender pity and long-suffering make us feel that refusal is impossible. Certainty is here. Yes, certainty. As surely as you draw nigh, so surely does He. And this drawing nigh on our part is nothing mysterious. A breathing of the heart sent up to God; a sigh, a longing, a desire, feeble and faint it may be,-that is drawing nigh. God does not stand upon ceremony with us.