Article 17

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What we Believe






"Near to God"

"So near, so very near to God, Nearer I cannot be; For in the person of His Son, I am as near as He."

So wrote Catesby Paget in one of his hymns. The words of his hymn are true. We cannot be any nearer to the Father than the Son and this is our position and standing in Him. He said so! He prayed:  "That they all may be one; as Thou, Father art in Me, and I in Thee, that they  be one in us; that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them as Thou hast loved Me" (John 17:21-23).

The prayers of our Lord Jesus Christ prevail for us, and we are brought to know our union with Him through grace. We are taught, by the Spirit of God, that we are citizens of a great city, yet we are strangers with Him in a strange land. We see this in Psalm 32. Whatever might be our condition or state Christ is with us. When the Spirit of God leads us to see that we are, in ourselves, as black as sin and Satan can make us, and we loathe ourselves because of our sin, even then, because of His own testimony, we are free from all sin, standing before God in all the perfections of His Son, Jesus Christ. As God, the Father, sees the Son so He sees us. This may seem to be a paradox. The Gospel abounds in paradoxes, which cannot be understood except by those who, through sovereign, electing grace, in regeneration have been made "...members of His Body, of His flesh, and of His bone" (Eph. 5:30), so that now " are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God" (Eph. 2:19), and are in the great company of those recorded in Heb. 11:13, that have embraced the promises of God and confess that they are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth." We were all aliens to God and strangers to the covenants of promise but have been brought by the Holy Spirit to the knowledge and understanding of that which that false prophet Balaam spoke, "Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations" (Numbers 23:9). This constitues the people of God as a "...chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. (1Pet. 2:9). It is a great and wonderful blessing to walk with Christ alone, willing to be nothing, anything, everything at His determination.

Now let’s look at this 32nd Psalm, verse 7. The Psalmist writes: "Thou hast been my hiding place...;" A Hiding Place from the the curse of the law, from the justice of God, and from His unrelenting wrath against all sin. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo said, "Art thou afraid of God? Fly to His arms."  This is the only hiding place for those who know the wrath of God against sin through the convicting power of the Spirit of God. Such a one can see no good in themsleves. To those of us who have walked that road we found that in anything we did we could see nothing but sin. Even now we see in ourselves pride, presumption and arrogance so that if it were possible for God to say "Depart from me into everlasting fire," we could only agree. It is only as we are sheltered by the atoning blood of Christ, that we are forever safe.

"A refuge for sinners the Gospel makes known, ‘Tis found in the merits of Jesus alone;

The weary, the tempted, the burdened by sin Were never exempted from entering therein."

See this! "...Thou shalt preserve me from trouble; Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance." The knowledge of our preservation from both death and hell, gives us peace and joy of heart. But often days of mourning and nights of sorrow are our lot. While others are singing songs of gladness, I am sad. All around me looks gay, and the hearts of God’s people seem filled with delight, but there is nothing for me but sorrow and woe. Yet, even here, "there are songs of delivereance." They will reach me and "compass me about." There are songs that descend to the depths of our sorrow that come from our covenant God and Savior; and these come through grace to me, before I can ever make melody in my heart to the Lord. If you turn to Nehemiah 8:10 you may read, "...the joy of the LORD is your strength." The joy of Jehovah the Father was in His first Elect, His Son, before the world began. The Spirit of God speaks in Prov. 8:30,31: "Then was I by Him, as one brought up with Him; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him; rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth, and my delights were with the sons of men." This speaks of the Father rejoicing in and with the Son, and the Son rejoicing with the Father giving their joy to the elect and redeemed sons of men. Sometimes we "would but cannot sing," we have no voice. But the Father can rejoice, the Son can rejoice, and the Holy Spirit can rejoice, and all for us. Hear the words of Zeph. 3:17: " The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love; He will rejoice over thee with singing.

You see a singng Saviour in Heb. 2:12. He speaks to the Father; "I will declare Thy name unto My brethren; in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto Thee. The Father rejoices over His elect people in Christ Jesus. The Savior sings and rejoices with His redeemed people. That one who is blessed with such singing may well say, "Thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. This tells me that in every time of doubt, fear, or danger, the God Who delivers will be ready to save, and nigh at hand "to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the Church by Jesus Christ throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Eph.3:20,21.).

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