Summary: We Have Full Access to the Triune God 1) By grace through faith 2) For peace and hope
To what lengths would you go to gain access to someone famous? As a kid, I often went to baseball games a couple of hours early to get autographs from the players. That’s nothing compared to a friend of mine whose brother climbed up and through a heating duct so he could be directly above the stage at a rock concert. In spite of these efforts, access was limited in both cases. For me, the baseball players were always on the other side of the fence. But at least I could hold a conversation with them. How do you do that when you’re stuck in a heating duct, as was my friend’s brother?
To what extent do we need to go to have access to God? That’s a question people have been trying to answer since the fall into sin. There are many answers out there in the form of various religions but only one has it right. Christianity teaches, as the Bible tells us, that there is nothing we can do to gain access to God. Our sin has severed ties that once existed. Having said that, our text teaches that we do have access to God - and not just any kind of access. We have full access to the Triune God by grace through faith, and for peace and hope.
People tend to expend more energy trying to gain access to God than doing things like climbing through heating ducts. Some make pilgrimages to places or building considered sacred, traveling miles on foot with nothing more than the clothes on their back. Others look for the right chicken to sacrifice, or even the right kind of weed to smoke. Some have even offered human sacrifices like the Aztecs who slaughtered up to 20,000 people a year! By nature we know that we owe God something if we want access to him. But here’s the thing, we don’t have what it takes to gain access to God. God doesn’t want us to walk miles to some lonely monastery. Nor does he want us to sacrifice chickens or humans. What he wants from us, what he demands of us is perfection. He wants people who always put the needs and wants of others first. He wants seasoned-citizens, for example, who use their wisdom and experience to encourage, not criticize. He wants husbands who cheerfully wash dishes, mow the lawn, and change diapers. He wants wives who are always happy to pick up the kids, and who aren’t bitter that the monthly grocery bill doesn’t allow for luxuries like spa treatments. He wants young people to serve their boss, customers, and Mom and Dad as if serving Jesus himself – always with a smile and looking to do more than just the bare minimum. Have you fallen short in any of these areas? If so, your access to God has been cut off. It’s not just that God ought now to ignore you, like an ATM machine ignoring your request for cash because there is none in your account. God ought to come after you, like the Crown prosecuting a doctor because he was negligent in upholding his oath to diligently care for his patients.
But God will not come after you. Why not? Listen to what Paul writes in the verses after our text: “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:6, 9) God will not come after us because he went after his own Son for our sins. At the cross, God the Father poured out his wrath for the world’s sin on Jesus the way you and I might take out our frustrations on a punching bag after a tough day. Would you ever consider doing such a thing as God did? Would you give up your son, would you turn him away from your house so that the drunk driver who killed your daughter can live in his room and eat his food? Not in a million years! And yet this was the length that God went to so that our sins would be forgiven and that we would have full access to him! Why did God do it? He did it because he felt like it. That’s grace.
Only by grace do we have access to the Triune God, and only through faith in Jesus, not faith in anything we have done, will we enjoy the blessings of this grace. Paul made that clear when he wrote: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Romans 5:1, 2a). Just as only the right password will give you access to your online bank account, so it’s only through Jesus that we have access to God, and full access at that! Having full access to God means that you will never get a computerized menu of options, or an angel who puts you on hold when you want to talk to God. Through faith in Jesus you have direct access in prayer to the CEO of everything. Having full access to God means that you weren’t given a spectator’s ticket to the concert of God’s grace; you have a backstage pass that allows you to get close and personal with God – as demonstrated in Holy Communion where we receive Jesus’ body and blood (adapted from Preach the Word January/February 2007, p. 2).