Summary: 22nd in a series from Ephesians. Our access to God has some important implications.
A couple of weeks ago the national champion University of Arizona softball team was invited to meet President Bush at the White House. But if you or I want to visit the White House, it requires some prior arrangements. If I just want to take a trip to Washington D.C. and visit the White House, I can contact Gabrielle Giffords, who is my congresswoman, and she can arrange for me to take part in one of the free tours of the White House which are held on Tuesday through Saturday mornings.
But if I want to visit with President Bush while I’m there, the process is much more difficult. In fact, I would probably find it impossible to obtain access to the President. The only people who have the opportunity to have an audience with him are those who have important matters to discuss with him and who can make arrangements to meet with him with the proper members of his staff.
But even though I don’t have unrestricted access to the President, I have something much more valuable – access to God Himself. Paul has already touched on that idea earlier in his letter to the church at Ephesus. Perhaps you’ll remember this verse from Chapter 2:
For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Ephesians 2:18 (NIV)
In that verse, Paul was emphasizing that both the Jews and the Gentiles had been provided with direct access to God by the same means – the death and resurrection of Jesus. As we continue with our journey through Ephesians this morning, Paul is going to return to that idea one more time. For some reasons that will hopefully become more apparent in a little bit, I’m going to have us read this passage in three different translations this morning:
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Ephesians 3:12 (NIV)
in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.
Ephesians 3:12 (NASB)
In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
Ephesians 3:12 (KJV)
You’ll note that there are some subtle differences in each of these translations and we’ll be discussing the reasons for some of those variations and their possible implications for us as we examine this verse today.
On a surface level, this verse is really pretty simple. All believers – in Paul’s case he is referring specifically to both Jews and Gentiles – have direct access to God through Jesus Christ. But that rather simple concept has some important implications for us and our relationship with God. This morning I’d like us to focus on just three of them.
THREE IMPLICATIONS FOR MY ACCESS TO GOD
1. Access to God is only through Jesus
All the translations we looked at this morning begin this verse with the phrase “in whom” or “in him”, obviously a direct reference to Jesus Christ at the end of verse 11. Once again, this is no surprise for us since Paul has made it clear from the very beginning of his letter that it is the work of Jesus Christ that makes it possible for us to experience all the spiritual blessings of God.
Our access to God is no different. That access is made possible to His children totally and completely through Jesus Christ. Jesus emphasized that principle to His followers shortly before he made that access possible when He redeemed us by paying the price for our sins on the cross:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 (NIV)
The Gentile culture of Paul’s day had all kinds of gods and the people believed that the affliction and misfortune that came into their lives was a result of offending those gods. So whenever something bad would happen – someone got sick or died, the crop failed, a storm wiped out one’s property – it was assumed that someone had done something to offend one of the gods. So the people would engage in some kind of ritual in an attempt to appease the gods.
Those rituals often took the form of some kind of sacrifice, even the sacrifice of one’s own child in many cases. There were also different forms of prayer and acts of penance that might be entered into. But the problem is that the people could never even be sure of which god had been offended, alone be sure that their acts of appeasement would be adequate. Within that culture, the whole concept of having access to or a relationship with the gods was completely foreign.
But Paul makes it clear that we don’t have to try to appease God in order to be able to enter into His presence. In fact, whatever we do to try to appease God will always fall short. But it doesn’t matter because Jesus has already provided that access for me. Paul reinforces that principle in another of his letters: