by Canon Mark A. Pearson
“Hey look at this,” she proudly announced, pushing a badge of some sort in my face. “See this? It’s a back stage pass. I have access!”
I discovered “access” meant she could go back stage where not just anybody was allowed. Maybe her idol, that famous Country Western music star she went to hear might just walk by. Maybe he’d look her way. If a real miracle happened, he might even speak to her. Likely? No. But theoretically possible because she had a back stage pass. She belonged back stage. No one would throw her out. She had access.
We have access
First, let’s look at two very important Scriptures that talk about access. First, there’s Romans 5:1-2: “…through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand….”
Second, there’s Ephesians 3:11-2: “…in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.”
Please reread these passages several times slowly so every word sinks in.
Access to what?
The girl with the badge had access to backstage at a concert. To what do we have access? According to these Scripture passages:
1. We have access to grace. Grace is unmerited favor. It’s something we don’t deserve but are given anyway. A “grace period” on your loan is an extension of the time during which you have to make your payment without paying a penalty. Because you did nothing to deserve this extension, because it’s given by the mercy of the lending institution, it’s called a grace period.
We do not deserve the blessings God bestows upon us. While God gives “common grace” to everyone (God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” — Matthew 5:45), there is special grace, special blessings, reserved for His children.
So many Christians do not ask God for His grace nor do they regularly make use of the means of grace such as prayer and Holy Communion because they do not know they have access to it!
The writer to the Hebrews encouraged Jewish believers in danger of slipping back into Old Covenant legalism to “approach the throne of grace” (4:16).
2. We have access to God the Father. Until Good Friday, there was a veil — a large curtain — across the entrance to the temple’s Holy of Holies, the place where God’s Presence specially dwelt. We now have access to the Holy of Holies. Believers now have access to the Father.
Please go back to page one and reread the two Scripture passages. We have access through or in Jesus Christ. How? To explain that we must continue with the story of the Holy of Holies.
Because of personal sin, no one could enter the Holy of Holies except for the high priest, and he but once a year (Hebrews 9:7). This curtain reminded people that their sins had placed a barrier between themselves and God. The system of bringing sacrifices to the temple to be offered to God was good because God ordained it, but it didn’t get the job done of removing their sins, since it had to be offered repeatedly. It was a reminder of how far short people were and therefore could not come close to God (Hebrews 10:1-3).
What Jesus did in dying on the cross was making perfect atonement, perfect sacrifice for sin (Mark 10:45, Hebrews 9:28). And when He did this, there was no longer an impediment keeping believers out of the Holy of Holies, so the veil of the temple was ripped in two. Scripture says “from top to bottom (Matthew 27: 51) implying that God grabbed it from heaven (from the top). The blood of Jesus finished the job of atoning for sin (Hebrews 10:19) which is why Jesus shouted it (the work of atoning for sin) is finished, not I’m finished (John 19:30).
Many of us have had the experience of being thrown out of a place in which we did not belong. Many of us as children were allowed to stay in the presence of the grownups if we remained quiet!
We project these experiences onto our relationship with God. When it comes to our access to God and God’s grace we tend to come tentatively and cautiously, but that’s not what the Bible says! Eph-esians 3:12 says we have access to God in boldness. Hebrews 4:16 exhorts us to “approach the throne of grace with boldness.” If Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we’ve been invited to come!
We might demur, knowing how unworthy we are. Yes, we’re not worthy but if Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, we are acceptable because of His worthiness. Therefore, as we come boldly, we also come humbly.
Come to do what?
One of my favorite contemporary praise songs is “Come into the Holy of Holies” written over twenty years ago by John Sellers. It starts off reminding us how we come … “enter by the blood of the Lamb” … underscoring what we just saw.
Then we’re invited to sing and worship, lifting holy hands. Before we think about our needs or those of others, we worship God, surrendering our wills to Him afresh. By the way, this should be the order in our personal prayer life (worship God, confess our sins, surrender to His will, and only then start asking for things) and in how we value worship (it is first and foremost to glorify God and only then to uplift us).
But then, yes, it is a throne of grace to which we come. It is a loving Father — One Who loved us so much He sent Jesus to die in our place for our sins so we could come close to Him (John 3:16) — to which we come. So, then, ask for others, for the nation and world, for the Church at large and your own congregation and clergy, and for yourself.
Let’s end this article by our taking a minute to reflect on what a tremendous blessing our access to God’s grace and God’s person is. If that young lady proudly showing me her back stage pass had something to be excited about, how much more do we! +