SALVATION IN EPHESIANS
#12 ACCESS INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD
In several places in the New Testament we read that in Christ the believer has access into the presence of God.
This amazing truth is often overlooked. We find ourselves and other believers living, acting and thinking as though it was not true, as though our sin still has the power and authority to separate us from God and bar us from his presence.
That sin does separate from God is quite evident from the scriptures:
In Genesis 3:24 God barred the way to the 'tree of life', placing cherubim at the east side of the Garden of Eden. Having sinned, having rejected God, we were no longer permitted to live with God. [Read Genesis 3:22-24.]
In the tabernacle, then later in the temple, no one was permitted to enter the Most Holy Place, except the High Priest once a year, and then only after strict ritual requirements had been met. This Most Holy Place represented the presence of God. It was divided off from the rest of the tabernacle by a curtain on which were embroidered golden cherubim. It acted as a barrier barring access to the symbolic presence of God. [Read Exodus 26:31-37; Leviticus 16.]
In Isaiah 59:2 the idol-worshipping, God-rejecting Israelites of that era were told: 'your iniquities have separated you from God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear'.
Sin separates us from God. Sin disqualifies us from standing in his presence. That is a clear biblical fact.
But there is another, equally clear, fact: that Jesus Christ came and died to deal with sin. That Jesus Christ came and died precisely to remove the sin-barrier that stands between us and God. This is, as we have already seen, the deep meaning of forgiveness. Jesus disempowered sin, taking it out of the way; it no longer stands in between us and God. At the moment of his death that symbolic, prohibitive curtain in the temple was ripped away [Matthew 27:51].
Thus the scripture teaches us this amazing truth about the permanent, unimpeded relationship we have with God:
- 'God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus' [Ephesians 2:6]
- 'Through him we ... have access to the Father by one Spirit' [Ephesians 2:18]
- Through Jesus Christ 'we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand' [Romans 5:2]
- God the Father 'has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light' [Colossians 1:12]
- 'Your life is now hidden with Christ in God' [Colossians 3:3]
- Because of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, we should 'approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need' [Hebrews 4:16]
- 'We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus ... with full assurance of faith' [Hebrews 10:19-22]
Paul sums it up in Ephesians 3:12:
- 'In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence' or, in the KJV 'In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.'
The sin barrier is gone, removed forever by the blood of Jesus Christ. Those who have received Jesus Christ have, in him, received also this amazing, incredible gift: that we have, right now, permanent, present access into the presence of the living and holy God. He does not turn us away. He will not turn us away. He cannot turn us away because his dearly loved Son fulfilled the commission he gave him, and purchased for us this right of entry.
If we were to look to our own merits we would indeed still be disqualified and banned from God's presence. Our sin would see to that. But we do not look to our own merits, we look to Christ alone. We do not trust in ourselves. We trust in Christ alone. We believe ... not in ourselves ... we believe in Christ.
In Christ, and in Christ alone, we have this assurance, this confidence, this boldness, that we have permanent, present access into the very presence of God.
Let us, sinners though we are, embrace and rejoice in this amazing grace.
Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2007