Near- And Yet So Far
By: Elder James Groce
The one fundamental doctrine of the Christian Church is contained in the words of Jesus: “Ye must be born again.” You can no more enter heaven without being born again than a person can enter physical life without physical birth. And whenever preachers or teachers side-step or neglect the doctrine of the new birth they surrender their converts unconditionally to the devil. Any religious organization which does not have for its prime function the preaching of repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost (evidenced by speaking in tongues) is not ordained by the Lord God for His work, for this is the New Birth !
There is no substitute for conversion. Do you know the meaning of the New Birth? Have you been born from above? If you have, you can cite a definite experience in your life. Just as for the first time a baby opens its eyes to the light of day and whimpers its first cry, so at some time, if you have truly been born again, you opened your spiritual eyes and whimpered your first cry to God. You cannot sneak into the kingdom of God; when you come up to the great portals you will present only one acceptable passport the certificate of the New Birth.
“Ye must be born again.” This command has gone out to all the world. No one is exempt, from the king who sits on the throne to the pauper in the gutter. “The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now he commandeth all men everywhere to repent”–no exception, Hindu or Englishman, black man or white man or red man, intellectual man or simple, rich man or poor man, it makes no difference to God. The command is to all men–all men everywhere must repent. Unless you are born again, you will be lost.
You will recall the story of the scribe, given in the twelfth of Mark, who came to Jesus asking what was the first commandment of all. The answer was: “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” The scribe admitted that this was true, and the Lord said to him: “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” But there was a great step yet for him to take. He was, “So near, and yet so far away.” Metallurgists tell us that copper is almost gold; but it is not gold, neither can man find a way to make it gold.
There are people that are near, and yet so far. Many have been sentimentally near; they have cried over the agony of Jesus on the cross, wept while singing, “At the cross, at the cross.” These are sentimentally near, but that is all. There are folks who are intellectually near. They say: “Yes, that is the truth. I believe this doctrine; that is right–amen.” They are intellectually near–and yet so far. And there are people who are morally near–good folks. They live a decent life and see themselves as pure. They are near, yet so very far away. Jesus words still ring clear and strong to all those that are near, “Ye must be born again.”
Friend, another day should fail to go by without you finding an Apostolic altar at which to bow your knee and obey the commandment of the Lord–“Ye must be born again.” You may have been near and felt safe, but if you have not been born of water and Spirit you are yet very far away from the kingdom of God, so far in fact that you can’t even see it. Obey Acts 2:38 today and be born again!