Monday, December 14, 2015

The Nearness of God to His Word

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

James told his readers to draw close to God and, in return, He would draw close to them [4:8].  So, how do we experience the nearness of God? How do we draw close to Him? If you ask Christ followers that question, you may get a variety of answers, from sappy to biblically and theologically robust. For me, more than anything else, I am closer to God while reading and meditating on Scripture. 

The theological word for the nearness of the Lord is His attribute of immanence. Theologically speaking, He is present in His creation (but not identified with His creation) whether one feels close to Him or not. However, the Bible also reveals that God promised to manifest His presence at special times and in special ways. For example, He uniquely manifested Himself in the Wilderness Tabernacle and Jerusalem’s Temple. Another manifestation of His presence was in the person of Jesus, God made flesh who dwelled among us [John 1:1-18]. However, in both the Old and New Testaments, one clearly sees the association of God’s presence when reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture. 

The Psalmist affirmed this in Psalm 119 (particularly vv. 145-152). The enemy was close by and ready to attack him, but he had confidence that God would rescue him. He specifically noted the nearness of the Lord while extolling the Lord’s commandments [vs. 151]. Do you see the connection? He knew God was near him—he had confidence in the truth of Scripture. There’s a great biblical truth here; the Lord comes alongside His Word, making it effectual for His divine purposes [see Isaiah 55:10-11]. In other words, when you have the Word, you have God; when Scripture speaks, God speaks! [2 Peter 1:20-21]. 

God attends every word of Scripture. So whether you are reading the Word, or hearing it preached, you are enjoying a personal encounter with God. Every word of Scripture manifests His authority and truthfulness [2 Timothy 3:16-17].

The Holy Spirit also attends the reading and hearing of the Word, instructing us, convicting us, and conforming us to the image of Jesus. You don’t have to seek “mountaintop” experiences to know that God is near. God is always near His Word.

But You are near, O LORD, and all Your commands are true. I have known from my earliest days that Your laws will last forever. Psalm 119:151-152

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