A Chance to Draw Near

It’s time to draw near to God this Christmas. I mentioned last week in my message the stress and pressure most of us face at the end of the year. 2019 has been a difficult year for many of us, and I feel like I’m heading towards flopping into Christmas rather than celebrating it.

But in my devotions, the Lord has been challenging me not to draw a blank, not to withdraw, not to draw the wrong conclusions but to draw near to Him.

Hebrews 10:22-25 (ESV Strong’s)

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

 

THE END OF YEAR BLUES

 

As the end of the year approaches, it’s tempting to grow tired, to give up, to withdraw from church and deal with life’s pressures alone. But God has challenged me to flip this around and see the approaching time off over Christmas as the start of the 2020, the year of vision.

 

God is about to do something remarkable at Ignite in 2020, and the best preparation we can undergo is at the start of the passage I just read…

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares, “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.”

 

Today I want to dive deep into a word study of the phrase “draw near.”

 

IT IS TIME TO DRAW NEAR

 

Draw near is proserchomai in Greek, which means to approach, accede to. It is usually used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew qerab, and in both Hebrew and Greek it pictures the idea of closeness to the object being approached.

 

Proserchomai is used in several places in the NT, for example in Matthew 5:1 where the disciples draw close to Jesus, denoting a closeness and level of intimacy, and also in…

 

Matthew 4:11 (ESV Strong’s)

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came (drew near) and were ministering to him.

 

What, then, does it mean biblically to draw near to God, and his can we do this in the hustle and bustle of life in the 21st century?

 

1.      WE MUST HAVE A PURE HEART

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. What does this actually mean?

 

Drawing near to God means having a sincere desire for truth.

 

We live in a world where the truth is what you make it, and where google is the source of all wisdom and knowledge. We live in a world where anyone and everyone believes it’s their God given right to voice their opinions at any cost.

 

People no longer search for truth, they create their own and call it an absolute. Actions and lifestyles that just a decade ago were considered abnormal and even abhorrent are now not only tolerated they are championed under our new, self constructed version of truth.

 

The Greek words rendered “true heart” are alethines kardias. The Greek word aletheia speaks of a truth that is absolute, irrefutable, incontestable, unarguable, and unchanging. The specific form of the Greek used here also refers to “sincerity.” The  Greek is telling us that a true heart is honest, absolute and doesn’t change every 5 minutes.

 

Kardia, which means heart, doesn’t just refer to an emotion, “an affair of the heart”.  In Greek, it refers also to the reason and to the faculty of intelligence. So in Greek, it implies you are ruled by both your heart and your head.

 

A true heart doesn’t say, throw away your brain, it says engage your mind and see the truth for what it really is. And it sets you free…

 

John 8:32 (ESV Strong’s)

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 

GOD ON MY OWN TERMS?

 

While many people today say such things as, “I want to be near God,” or “I want to get close to God,” when confronted with the absolutes of God’s Word, they rebel. That’s a staggering contradiction!

 

In truth, they don’t want to draw near to God at all. They are like the Israelites, of whom Isaiah wrote…

 

Isaiah 29:13 (ESV Strong’s)

Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,

 

Yes, they say the words, but when it comes down to real truth, they reject it and live according to their own ways. The most important thing that drawing near to God requires is that we sincerely want to hear, receive, and obey God’s truth.

 

So many in church are like this today. They want God, yes, but on their own terms. They want a God who meets their needs, or wants. They want a celestal

Santa Clause, and they believe if they are not naughty but nice, He will shower the, with everything they want. They want to negotiate with God and get as much as they can from Him for the minimum outlay.  For some, drawing near to God is about obeying rules instead of longing, thirsting for and paying any cost to connect with God.

 

Psalms 63:1 (ESV Strong’s)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

 

Australia is in the grip of severe drought. But that is nothing compared to the drought in the souls of our people. This generation of Christians is responsible for this generation of souls, and we will fail in our God given calling and just play church week after week in our little church clubs if we do not draw near to Him with a true heart.

 

2.      WE MUST HAVE ABSOLUTE CONFIDENCE TO DRAW NEAR

 

Hebrews 10:22 (ESV Strong’s)

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,

 

Drawing near to God means having absolute confidence in God. The Greek for “full assurance” is plerophoria, which means “entire confidence, full assurance.” To be near to God, then, means that we must have total confidence in His promises, absolute assurance of His provision, and full and complete trust in His sovereignty.

 

What does this look like? It means we trust Him whether He does what we want or not. Absolute confidence is absolute faith in and absolutely faithful God.

 

When Kaileigh was born, and did not breathe for 7 minutes, by God’s grace to us she survived. I remember praying and thanking God for His goodness, and then He spoke this to our hearts… if I’d have taken her home, would I still be a good God?

 

You see, the more we doubt Him, the more we question Him, the farther away from Him we drift. The more we trust Him, the closer we can draw to Him.

 

And of course in the modern world, questioning and doubting are considered desirable when it comes to God. The media will despise and attack you if you question their morality or what they consider truth, but they implore the young to throw away the antiquated, draconian faith of their parents and question everything.

 

Church is seen as at best irrelevant and at worst holding back the new order of truth.

 

But what they don’t count on is the absolute infallibility of Scripture, that

 

Hebrews 13:8 (ESV Strong’s)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

 

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV Strong’s)

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

 

God loves you, He has plans for you, He has a hope and a future, and He has opened the way for you to draw near to Him. Do it today with the confidence that He will never change, and will never, never let you down!

 

3.      WE MUST HAVE HOLINESS

 

It may not be fashionable to say it, but the third requirement for drawing near to God is holiness.

 

Hebrews 12:14 (ESV Strong’s)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares, “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.”

 

The imagery in the words “having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” is distinctly OT, referring to the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice for the cleansing of sin.

 

Jesus was that sacrifice for us, because He came as a perfect sacrifice and laid His life willingly down for us.

 

Hebrews 9:12 (ESV Strong’s)

he (Jesus) entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

 

But not only are we saved by this blood, but we are constantly brought back to it for daily cleansing.

 

Hebrews 9:14 (ESV Strong’s)

how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

 

We are saved by the shed blood of Jesus, but we are also constantly purified by kneeling at the cross daily, drawing near to Him and allowing His blood to purify our hearts and minds.

 

We are forever coming back to the Cross, for it is there that our sin was dealt with and our conscience was cleared. You cannot play or stay with sin and draw near to God, because God is holy. But, as the apostle John declares, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

 

I fear for the church in this nation. We keep quiet when we should speak, we live in fear of the media, we cocoon ourselves in our churches, surrounded by religious rules, religious rituals and religious language, while our nation marches proud of their tolerance on to hell!

 

Saw a FB post recently that as an old rocker quite liked… It’s a stairway to heaven, but a highway to hell, and that says something about expected traffic flows.

 

To draw near to God, we must be holy in all we say and do, because partial holiness is unholiness!

 

As Edmund Burton said, “All that is required for evil to triumph is for God men to do nothing.” This week in my quiet times God challenged me from Ezekiel 22 to be that one who stands in the gap for his people and his nation. Will you join me and be the one standing in the gap between sinful man and holy God?

 

4.      WE MUST HAVE A DESIRE FOR HIS WORD

 

Lastly, drawing near to God means having a desire for His Word. While the first principle was one of attitude, we see here the action to match the attitude.  If you tell me you want to draw near to God, but you don’t want to read His Word, then we have a mismatch.

 

Some interpreters view the words “our bodies washed with pure water” as a reference to baptism, but most see that view as incorrect because baptism is not a washing away of sin, but rather a symbol of identification, a public testimony of what has occurred in the heart.

 

The phrase “washed with pure water” means that God’s Word is the means of being washed, and that we are kept clean by our constant “bathing” in His Word.

 

Ephesians 5:25-26 (ESV Strong’s)

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

 

The final step, the practical outworking and expression of the other steps, is to constantly immerse ourselves in the Word of God. Read it daily, study it, memorise it, obey it, and live it!

 

2019 has been a tough year for most of us, and even for this church. We’ve tried to buy property, sell property, cope with the numbers, and nothing seems to have worked. That’s why we are staying here, modifying this property, and going back to a single morning service.

 

But my greatest regret and failure as a leader is that I did not implore you to read your Bible enough this year. That’s why I’ve just put the Bible reading plan on the church app. With 3 touches you can be in today’s reading, and with 4 you can have it read to you, for those who cannot or won’t read.

 

IT’S TIME TO DRAW NEAR

 

I’m so serious about us desiring God’s Word, because without that desire we cannot draw near to God.

 

Hebrews 10:22 declares, “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.”

 

Drawing near to God involves a true heart, complete confidence, holiness and constant washing in the purity of His Word. And it all starts right now. Right now we can decide to bow the knee and draw near to God, or not. In the business of this time, I’m choosing to draw near, and I’m asking you to do the same. You will never know God’s destiny for your life until you decide you want Him badly enough to draw near to Him.

 

It’s like 2 magnets, coming closer together, when the magnetic field takes over and draws you in.

 

So, in the busyness of this time of year, I’m asking you to draw near with me…

 

James 4:8 (ESV Strong’s)

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

 

About Darin

Pastor Darin Browne is the Senior Pastor of Coast Church in Woombye, Queensland. He is an international speaker and worship leader and has toured all over the world, produced 8 albums and authored several books.