Adrian Rogers - Five Ways to Draw Closer to Jesus
Would you take God's Word and find the book of Ruth; Joshua, Judges, Ruth and turn to the third chapter. A man said these words some time ago. He must've been a saint because it was in his prayer that he prayed these words, "Lord, I want to see You more clearly. I want to follow You more nearly. I want to love You more dearly". And I think that's the prayer of most of our hearts. We may not have been able to put it in words like that, but we want to see Him clearly, we want to get closer to Him and to follow Him more nearly and to love Him more dearly. We want an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, don't we? We hear other people talk about it, and we say, "Lord, I just really want to know You in a very close way".
Well we're gonna be talking about that today. We have been for the last two Sundays and will be this Sunday and next Sunday, in the book of Ruth, and we're doing a chapter a Sunday. Now, we're talking here in the book of Ruth and showing you that it is a story, a true story, a love story, but there is a story behind the story. As Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the truth," and that is this: that this woman who was a Moabite, whose name was Ruth, who was a pagan, a Gentile, outside the commonwealth of Israel, is brought to faith in her Lord, and she has a redeemer whose name is Boaz, whom she marries. Boaz from Bethlehem pictures the Lord Jesus Christ.
And so the maid from Moab marries the bachelor of Bethlehem, and they live happily ever after, and that's a picture, a true picture, an illustration, of the church and the Lord Jesus, for the church is the bride of Christ. And, with that in the background in your heart, there comes a time, and by the way, the whole scene takes place during the barley harvest. And Boaz was a mighty man of wealth, and he became Ruth's redeemer, and we're going to see that more next week. The scene is during the barley harvest and Boaz is the one who owns the barley fields, and he is there with his harvesters in the fields, and Ruth, who has come recently from Moab to the land of Israel, is going to be married to Boaz, and he is her former husband's relative. Ruth is a widow and now she's going to be married to Boaz.
Now, the scene that we have today is a scene of a very close and intimate relationship of Ruth, who pictures the church, with Boaz, who pictures the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope you've got the setting. Now let's look if we can in Ruth chapter 3, "Then Naomi her mother-in-law," that is Ruth's mother-in-law, "said unto her, 'My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?'" That is, "Do you want rest and refreshment, do you want replenishment, do you want all that your heart yearns for"? "'And now is not Boaz of our kindred,'" Boaz, remember, pictures Jesus, "'with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley tonight in the threshing floor.'" To winnow barley means to toss it up in the air, let all the chaff be blown away so that the barley will remain. And there they are as the old-time custom and habits were separating the barley from the chaff.
Now here's the advice, here's the advice now that Naomi gave to Ruth, and it is the advice that I'm going to give to you if you want to draw near to the Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to these words now, "'Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he hath done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.' And she said unto her," Ruth said to Naomi her mother-in-law, again, Ruth is the widow of Naomi's son, "and she said unto her, 'All that thou sayest unto me I will do.'"
Now there you have the setting. Let me tell you five ways to draw closer to Jesus, and it's right here. And I want you to see it. It's so important. Now remember, folks, Christianity is not a code, it is not a cause, it is not a creed, it is not conduct, it is not church; it's Christ, it's Christ. And the mark of a Christian is a love for the Lord Jesus Christ. And the true desire of every child of God is to know Jesus Christ intimately. We want more than redemption, we want a relationship. We want more than the gifts, we want the Giver. We want Jesus Christ to be real to us. As the apostle Paul said, "Oh, that I may know Him". Well, Paul already knew Him intellectually, he already knew Him spiritually, but Paul wanted to know more and more about the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now you can know about somebody without knowing somebody. I want to know Jesus, don't you? I want Christ to be real to me. I want to know, not merely about Him, I want to know Him, and when the rapture comes, and it may come soon, I want to rise in the rapture and meet somebody face to face that I've already known heart to heart. The Lord Jesus Christ, to know Him, as the apostle Paul says there in Philippians chapter 3 and verse 10, "That I may know Him". Now Naomi's advice is wonderful, wonderful advice, if you want to know your redeemer Boaz in an intimate way. Step number one. Write it down: be freshly cleansed, be freshly cleansed.
Look in verse 3 of chapter 3. Naomi says to Ruth, "Wash yourself. You're going to meet him. Be clean". And this is what we must do if we would draw near unto our Lord. Put these verses down. James is talking about drawing near to our Lord, and James says in James chapter 4 verse 8, "Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded". James said, "If you're going to draw nigh to God, you've got to be clean. You can't worship with dirty hands, defiled hearts, and double minds". That's what James is saying. Wash your hands, no more dirty hands. Purify your heart, no more defiled heart. Get your mind single, "This one thing I do". And so that's the very first step in coming close to the Lord Jesus Christ is to be clean, to be clean. Put this verse down, Second Corinthians chapter 7 verse 1, "Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God".
If you would draw near to your lover, your redeemer, you must be clean, you must be clean. Many people complain that their prayers are not answered. They say, "I prayed and I prayed and I prayed, but my prayers are not answered. My prayer life is fruitless and dead". Listen to these verses. Isaiah chapter 1 verses 15 and 16. God says, "And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you". Here we are up and, saying, "Oh, God". Here's God saying, "I'm not watching, I'm not looking, I'm not listening". Well why would God do that? Listen, He says, "When ye make many prayers I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings before Mine eyes, cease to do evil". God says, "I will not hear your prayers; you can't draw nigh to Me with dirty hands, double minds. You can't do that. Be clean before you come before Me".
Isaiah chapter 52 and verse 11, "Depart ye, go ye out from hence. Touch no unclean thing, be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord". Can you imagine a maiden wanting to be near her lover, her bridegroom, who is dirty and sweaty and grimy and smelly? Can you imagine that? Can you imagine anybody going to have an intimate relationship with one that she loves, who doesn't even care enough to bathe? You're coming to the Lord. You're coming for an intimate relationship with Almighty God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Be freshly cleansed. We're not talking about yesterday's bath. We're not talking about one that you had a month ago. We are talking about being freshly clean. Naomi says to Ruth, listen, "Be freshly cleansed". How are we cleansed?
Now, in a very practical way, how do we get clean before we come to the Lord? Well, we're cleansed by the Word of God. Put these verses down. Ephesians 5 verses 25 and 26, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it and cleanse it by the washing of water by the Word". The Word of God is to your spirit what water is to your body. You are washed with the Word. David said the same thing in Psalm 119 verse 9, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word". Now how does the Bible cleanse us? Well, James says the Bible is like a mirror. It shows what we are. It reveals the defilement and the dirt in us. You see, not only do we read the Bible, the Bible reads us. That's the reason some people don't like to read the Bible.
You see, there's the washing of water by the Word. But not only does the Word reveal the sin, the Word reveals the solution. Now you're cleansed by the Word and you're also cleansed by the blood. Listen to this Scripture. First John chapter 1 verses 7 through 9, "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another," now watch this, "and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". Now Naomi says to Ruth, "Be clean, be freshly cleansed". How do you do that? You do that with the Word, you do that with the blood, because the Word points out your sins, and the Word reminds you of the blood, and the Word gives these sacred promises, "If we confess our sins". It doesn't say "our sin," it says "our sins".
Now what's the difference? Well we say, "Oh, I guess everybody's a sinner. Lord, I just confess my sin". That won't do it. It says, "If we confess our sins," our sins. You see, the kind of prayer that says, "Well, Lord, if I've sinned, I'm sorry," you're wasting your breath. Say, "Lord, I lost my temper. Lord, I had a lustful thought. Lord, I was unkind. Lord, I was lazy. Lord, I did this, I did that". Name it, nail it, confess your sin. That means agree with God about your sin. The word confess, "homologeo," means to say the same thing, not to admit it. A confession is agreeing with Almighty God that it is wrong. Getting on God's side, "If we confess our sin". "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"!
Now the very first thing, if you would have an intimate relationship with your heavenly bridegroom: be freshly cleansed! That's the first thing. And by the way, friend, when you do get clean, the Bible says, "The blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son cleanseth us from all sin," and what God calls clean let no man call unclean. Hallelujah. Thank God for that. Now secondly, not only be freshly cleansed, but be fragrantly consecrated. I've chosen those words carefully, be fragrantly consecrated. Look again in chapter 3 verse 3. She also says, "Anoint thee". That is, "Ruth, put on some perfume. Put on some perfume". These women know what they're doing, you know that? They're smart. "Ruth, be clean and be sweet! Be nice to be near. Come with an aroma, come with an anointing".
Now, not only were brides anointed, but priests were anointed. And the anointing of the priest meant a consecration; that we're set aside. You know, in the, that love poem in, in the Bible, the Song of Solomon, also is a picture of Christ and the church and the bridegroom says in chapter 1 verse 14, "My beloved is to me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi". He goes to say in chapter 4 verse 14, "Spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, and all the trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices". They didn't have Walgreens, but they could go out into the field and compound an anointing oil, and they would wear it, and the very fragrance, the very fragrance would speak of love and intimacy.
Well, you say, "Pastor, if I'm cleansed, if I'm cleansed by the Word and by the blood, how am I anointed? What gives me a sweet-smelling fragrance to my bridegroom"? Your anointing is the Holy Spirit. Your anointing is the Holy Spirit. First John chapter 2 verse 27, "But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you all things and is truth and is no lie". You see, the anointing that we have is the Spirit of God. And do you know what? When I am clean and when I am filled with the Holy Spirit and I come before the Lord Jesus Christ, He says, "Mmm, I like that, I like that". It is the Holy Spirit, the Bible says, that gives us the fragrance of Christ.
You want to be near? Do you want to have an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Be anointed, be surrendered to the Holy Spirit of God so that He can make you a sweet-smelling savor, and that your very life, your very life will be like incense to Him. You know, there're people like that. Folks, I know people that walk with the Lord Jesus. When they walk in the room you can just smell the incense. I don't mean physically. I'm talking far beyond the physical, now; these are only emblems of the deeper spiritual truth. Number one, be freshly, freshly cleansed. Number two, be fragrantly consecrated. Number three, be fitly clothed. Be fitly clothed.
Look once again in verse 3 of chapter 3. She says, "And put thy raiment upon thee". Now she's a prospective bride, and Naomi says, "Now, Ruth, wear your best. Dress up, dress up, Ruth. You're going to see Boaz". Now she's been a widow. She is wearing her widow's garments, garments of mourning, and she's been in the field gleaning and working and her clothes are dusty and dirty. "Get rid of those things, Ruth. Dress up, Ruth! You're going to meet Boaz". That must've been wonderful good news for Ruth. Do you know the Gospel of good news is this? Put these verses in your margin: Isaiah chapter 61 verses 1 through 3. Here's what Isaiah the prophet said.
The Lord Jesus quoted him when He began His public ministry, "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted," Ruth was brokenhearted, "to proclaim liberty to the captives," Ruth had been taken captive by sin, sorrow, and death, "the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn". This poor, brokenhearted woman needed comfort. Notice this, "To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness". This is the way Ruth is to dress up. "Ruth, put off your ashes of sorrow, I'm going to give you beauty for ashes. Ruth, put away your mourning; I'm going to give you joy for mourning. Ruth! Put off the garment of heaviness; I'm going to give you the garment of praise"!
How do you come before the Lord Jesus Christ? Friend, with beauty and joy and praise! That's the way you dress up with the Lord. Well, where do you get those kind of clothes? Isaiah 61 verse 10, "For I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels". You want Jesus to be real to you? Pull some of the groans out of your prayers and shove in some hallelujahs. "Come before His presence with singing"! Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him, praise Him! Put on the garments of praise! And you'll find out that He'll be more real to you than He has been with our old stale, staid, take-it-or-leave-it prayers.
So, be freshly cleansed, wash yourself. Be fragrantly consecrated, anoint yourself. Be fitly clothed! Put off those old garments and clothe yourself with the garments of salvation to come before the Lord. Number four, be fully committed, be fully committed. Now look if you will in verses 3 and 4, "But make not thyself known unto the man, until he hath done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down," watch this, "thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down". What does this mean? "Ruth, you place yourself at the feet of your redeemer". The most sacred place on earth is at the feet of Jesus. You place yourself at the feet of your redeemer.
This was a sign of full commitment. She was saying when she did this; she came to the threshing floor. Boaz is asleep on the threshing floor. She pulls back the corner of his long garment, and there at his feet she places herself. It was her way of saying, "Boaz, I am willing to take you as my redeemer husband". There's nothing dirty here. There's nothing indecent here. Do not interpret this in the light of modern America. This was a threshing floor. There were whole families there. As a matter of fact she said, "That when you go to this threshing floor, you look and see where he is, where he's lying down". It's not something done in some clandestine motel room somewhere. And people are there.
And as a matter of fact, in chapter 3 verse 11 he says to Ruth, "I know that you're a virtuous woman". Nothing dirty, nothing impure. No, but what she is doing here; she is placing herself at his feet under his protection. As a matter of fact, when she says, "Put your skirt over me," the word "skirt" is the same word that is translated "wings" in the earlier chapter where this woman was said to come under the wings of Jehovah. What she is saying is that, "I place myself under your protection; I am fully committed to you"!
Question: can you have an intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ if you're not fully committed to Him? Answer: no, no. Is Christ Lord? I mean, have you, and I ask myself this question. And folks, I prayed over the message before I preached it. I had to ask myself every one of these questions. Have I placed myself at the feet of my Redeemer? You know, it was Mary in the New Testament who had the habit of sitting at the feet of Jesus. The most sacred place on earth is not in that pew where you're sitting, not at this altar, not behind this pulpit, not some temple somewhere. The most sacred place on earth is at the feet of Jesus when you are fully, fully, fully committed to Him, Amen?
Now here's, here's the last of these five things. If you want Him to be real to you, you want that intimate relationship to Him, not only be fully committed, but be faithfully compliant, faithfully compliant. Look now in verses 4 and 5 of this same chapter, "And she said unto her," Ruth said to Naomi, "All that thou sayest unto me I will do". And verse 4, "And he will tell thee what thou shalt do". Ruth is compliant. She is ready to obey. She is ready to be not only a hearer of the Word but a doer of the Word. And this is the final step in fellowship with our heavenly Boaz and redeemer husband. Do you want to be near to Him without obeying Him? Do you think somehow that you can take your place at His feet without hearing His Word? No. Naomi said that, "He will tell you what you shall do". Ruth said, "I'll do what he says. I'll say, yes, Lord, yes, to Your will and to Your way".
Do you want the Lord Jesus to be a bright, living reality to you? Jesus said in John chapter 7 verse 17, "If any man will do God's will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself". That is, if you surrender your will to the Lord, God will teach you. It's not, "Lord, You show me what You want me to do and I'll tell You whether I'll do it or not". No, no. You say, "Lord, I'll do it, what is it"? Have you ever done that? "Lord, I'll do it, what is it"? John 14 verse 21 is one of the greatest texts in the Bible about knowing the Lord intimately. Listen to it. Jesus said, "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father". Now watch this next thing, "And I'll manifest Myself to him". "I'll manifest Myself to him". "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will manifest Myself unto him". Fully compliant! The Lord says, "I'm gonna be real to you".
Now do you think you're gonna know God by Bible study? Listen to me, and this may frighten you, and you may disagree with it momentarily, but you don't know God by Bible study. Sorry about that. Did you know that boys go to seminary sometimes and backslide with a Bible under their arm? What good if you know Hebrew and don't know Him? What good is it if you know Greek and you don't know God? Bible study gives you knowledge about God. Obedience gives you knowledge of God. There's a difference. There's a difference. "He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me". All the rest is just religious talk. Don't you stand up and sing, "Oh, how I love Jesus," and you don't obey Him. He said, "Why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say? He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will manifest Myself to him".
Boaz was near and dear and clear to Ruth because she says, "Whatever he says to me, I'll do. I will be faithfully compliant to his will and to his way". Well, I want you to see Boaz' response to his bride. Notice first of all that he received her, chapter 3 verses 8 through 10, "And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was afraid, and turned himself: and behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, 'Who art thou?' And she answered, 'I am Ruth, thine handmaid. Spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid, for thou art a near kinsman.' And he said, 'Blessed be thou of the Lord, my daughter.'" "Blessed be thou of the Lord". He blessed her! He blessed her! You want a blessing?
Ephesians 1 verse 3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus". The most blessed place on earth is the feet of Jesus. Not only did he receive her, he reassured her. Look if you will in verses 11 through 13 of chapter 3, "And now, my daughter, fear not, for I will do to thee all that thou requirest, for all the city of my people know that thou art a virtuous woman. And now it is true that I am thy near kinsman: howbeit there is a kinsman nearer than I. Tarry thou this night, and it shall be in the morning, that if he will perform unto thee the part of a kinsman, well; let him do the kinsman's part. But if he will not do the part of a kinsman to thee, then I will do the part of a kinsman to thee, as the Lord liveth. Lie down until the morning".
Now I don't want to get into this too deeply, but there was a nearer kinsman who stood in line before Boaz. We're gonna talk about that nearer kinsman next week because that nearer kinsman is the law that cannot redeem. We're gonna talk about that next week, but I just want to say that he says to her, "Don't you be afraid". Not only did he receive her, but he reassured her, he spoke peace to her trembling heart, and that's what so many of us need: to be reassured. You see, she knew that he loved her, he loved her, and he did love her. As a matter of fact, he loved her before she loved him. He took the initiative. And the Bible says, "We love Him because He first loved us". And then the apostle John says in the epistle of First John chapter 4 verse 18, "Perfect love casteth out fear".
You know, I used to read that and think, "Man, that's great, but what good does that do me? I've never done anything perfectly but sin. So, yeah, if I loved Him perfectly then I wouldn't have any fear". And then one day God opened my eyes and put this in my thick skull, "Adrian, it's not your perfect love for Me that casts out fear; it's My perfect love for you that casts out fear". As a matter of fact, one translation gives it this way, "We have no need to fear someone who loves us perfectly". He's saying, listen, he received her, he reassured her, he said, "Don't be afraid," and then he replenished her, he loaded her down. She had a shawl. He said, "Put that out here".
Now remember, she'd been gleaning in the fields. He put so much barley in that thing that, that one commentator said it weighed sixty pounds. As a matter of fact, the Bible says, "He loaded it on her". You know, the Bible says, "He loadeth us with benefits"? He, he loaded it on her. I mean, she didn't need that much barley. "Our Lord is able to do exceeding and abundantly above all that we can ask or think". He loads her down! Because he loved her! Because she'd come to that place at his feet. He received her, he reassured her, he replenished her. She comes back to Naomi. Naomi said, "Who are you"? Now, she knew who she was. You'll have to understand the question. What she's saying is, "Are you the new Mrs. Boaz"? That's what she's saying, "Who are you? Who are you"? And she says, "Oh, mama, it's wonderful. Look at the grain". She told all that she had done. And then Naomi gives this advice.
I want you to listen to it. Look in Ruth chapter 3 verse 18. This wraps it up, "Then said she, 'Sit still, my daughter, until thou know how the matter will fall,'" now listen to this, "'for the man will not be in rest, until he hath finished the thing this day.'" "Ruth, you've done your part, just sit still, just be at rest". "The man will not rest till he hath finished the thing". Be at rest, sit still, the man will do it. Ruth, your responsibility is your response to his ability. You sit still. "The man will not rest till hath finished the thing".
You see, Jesus, our heavenly Redeemer, came to this earth. The first time we see Him is in the temple, and His parents said, "What're you doing here"? He said, "Don't you know that I must be about My Father's work"? In John chapter 9 verse 4 He says, "I must work the works of Him that sent Me while it is day". "The man will not rest until He's finished". I see Him as they spit on Him and jerk the beard from Him and tell lies about Him and lay the lash on His back. Why doesn't He quit? "The man will not rest till he hath finished the thing". I see Him as they lift Him up to Calvary and nail Him on that cross, and they say, "Come down from the cross"! Thank God He didn't, because, "The man will not rest until he hath finished the thing".
And then there comes that moment where He says, "It is finished". It's done. It is done. And now the man is resting. He's seated at the right hand of the Father, for He hath done it. He hath done it! The Man did not rest until He finished the thing. And that's the reason, folks, that I can rest and you can rest, because we've entered into the finished rest of our Redeemer, our Boaz, the Lord Jesus. Amen, Amen. Would you bow your heads in prayer? Heads are bowed, eyes are closed. Now if you have never, ever given your heart to Jesus, you need to do so today. And I promise you on the authority of the Word of God, He will save you if you want to be saved. He's already paid for your sin with His blood on the cross. If you'll just say:
Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner. My sin deserves judgment, but I need mercy. I open my heart now, I turn from my sin, I take my place at Your feet, my blessed Redeemer husband, my heavenly Boaz. I give You my heart, my life, forever.
Say, "Pastor, I can't remember all of that". Well just pray this:
Lord Jesus, come into my heart, forgive me and save me. Save me, Jesus.
Pray that from your heart. And then those of you who're already saved, would you say:
Lord, teach me how to draw near. Teach me how to draw near to You and to know You intimately. In Your name I pray, Amen.