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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 9 - Ephesians 2:18 - Access to the Father Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

IX.

 

Access To The Father.

 

"For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."

-Ephesians 2:18.

 

 

     God's earthly dwelling at first was Paradise, and there He held fellowship with Adam. Soon the friendship was broken, and man was driven out; and, since that, God's dwelling has not been with man, and man's dwelling has been outside the Paradise of God. As sinners, men have been shut out from God, for 'the foolish shall not stand in His sight.'

     Not that man ever really wanted back to God. As a refuge from something worse,-a shelter from hell,-he would have preferred heaven; but not as a place which he could rejoice in as his home. It was God that wanted man back to Himself, and to His Paradise.

     Yet God could not in righteousness take man back at once. Though He desires his return, yet He 'makes Himself strange,' and keeps him at a distance; shutting up Paradise with the flaming sword, and afterwards drawing the thick veil in front of His own mercy seat, as if to hide both His grace and His glory.

     Yet all along He taught men that there was a way of approaching Him; that His love had provided this; and that it was by means of sacrifice; for without shedding of blood there could be no remission, no access, no entrance, no acceptance to the shut-out sinner. Life must be given for life before man could be restored.

     Man's great desire ought to be to find his way back to God; for to be shut out must be misery as well as death. The moment that the human heart, through the Spirit's touch, awakes, it turns in the direction of God. Formerly it said, 'Who will show us any good?' Now it says, 'Oh that I knew where I might find Him, I would come even to His seat!' God all along met this longing of the awakened soul by the declaration, that there was a way of approach; but that there were obstacles for a season, until the great sacrifice should be offered up. This season of delay was the time during which God taught man the great truth of sacrifice, and directed his attention to its meaning and importance.

     All this has passed away. The veil has been rent in twain, and access to God, entrance into the holiest, freely granted to all, Jew and Gentile, the far off and the near; for neither in respect of sin, or the pardon of sin, is there any difference between them. National differences are unknown; and no man can lay claim to a freer or bolder entrance than another. As sinners, all were kept out; as sinners, all are invited to come in.

     It is 'access' that we all have, says the apostle; and this means not only an open door, but entire liberty of entrance; nay, a welcome; nay, an introduction to God; such an introduction as a friend at court gives, into the presence of the sovereign.

     The apostle's statement gives us three points of discourse, and these connect themselves with the whole Godhead in its three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, for each of the blessed Three is concerned in the matter; and we learn here not merely the love of Christ, but the love of the Father and the Spirit. To whom, through whom, by whom, we have access; these are the apostle's three heads.

     I. To whom.-To 'the Father;' to Him whose name, in the fullest sense of the word, and in all different aspects, expresses paternity or fatherhood. He is the Father, as the first Person of the Trinity, the representative of Godhead. He is the Father of Spirits, and 'we are His offspring.' He is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; His Father and our Father. The name expresses well our relationship to Him by creation (Adam is called 'the son of God'); but still better our relationship by redemption. It lays the foundation for our childlike confidence, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

     Our access, then, is not an imperfect one; it is not to an outer circle, or a colder region, or to less perfect confidence, or to fewer privileges. We get as far in and as far up as before; we get into relationship with the same blessed Being; we are made to taste as much love, nay, more; we are placed on a higher level; made possessors of a nobler and more enduring glory; made more truly sons of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ Jesus. The prodigal's reception by his father is a specimen of our reception by ours. Love, and joy, and song, and fatherly embraces,-these are our portion in returning to Him whose name is Father.

     This access, too, is free; for fatherhood is by its very nature generous, as well as unselfish. Its love is as liberal as it is tender. The access is for those who need it, not for those who deserve it, or are qualified for it, or can buy it. All who were 'shut out' are invited in, simply as those who are without or far off. The right of entrance is complete; and at the entrance itself there is no barrier, no half open gate. Come then at once. The Jewish worshipper would not have taken long to cross the threshold of the Holiest when he saw the veil removed, and was told that he might go in. It would have been but a single step. So with you. It is but a step, no more. Enough has been done to secure entrance and introduction for you: go in; draw near boldly; whether Jew or Gentile, whether laden with few or many sins. Go in without hesitation, for all are welcome. Go up to Him whose name is father, for He waits to receive His wanderers. The veil is rent, and there is no hindrance. Soon there will be; for not merely shall there be a veil, but 'a great gulf fixed,' where none can ever pass. Make haste, then, and go in.

     II. Through whom.-Through Christ. He is the veil, the door, the new and living way. 'No man cometh unto the Father but by me.' We must draw near in a lawful and righteous way; and mere love could not take us in. It might wish to do so; but it could not open the gate, nor make it safe for us to enter, or right for God to receive us. Jesus Christ has carried out the plans of love, and this not simply by 'taking flesh,' but by dying. His blood has removed the hindrance which love could not remove; it has opened the gate, and prepared the way. Law had laid an interdict on the sinner's approach; and so long as this was in force, to go in was to die, and not to live. But through the death of the Son of God, the interdict has been recalled, and the way opened; for He, by His offering up of Himself has accomplished the purpose for which the interdict was laid on. That sentence of exclusion was not arbitrary, but righteous; it was not a thing of caprice, but of necessary law. It was to preserve the foundations of the universe, to maintain the right order of creation, and to bring out the whole character of time just and holy Jehovah. The sinner's exclusion answered these ends to a certain extent; but Christ's taking the sinner's place of exclusion, and bearing the sinner's penalty, did this far more effectually.

     The great sacrifice has met law and righteousness at every point. It has unfolded the character of the Lawgiver as essentially holy, and set against all sin. It has shown that His presence is the Holy Place into which no sin can enter, and where the unholy cannot dwell. It has shown that God's love is not mere indifference to sin, or easy good-nature, or unwillingness to carry out justice to the full; that, on the contrary, no considerations,-not even love to His own Son,-will induce Him to modify His law, or relax its penalties, or deal leniently with sin, or come into contact with the unholy. It has shown that the divine glory is above every other consideration, and that with the full manifestation of that, nothing can be allowed to interfere. Thus, in consequence of time great propitiation on time cross, the interdict has been recalled, and entrance provided for the sinner. God no longer needs to keep him at a distance; He can now deal with the unworthiest in the way of reconciliation. His love can get full vent, and can go forth unstraitened and free.

     In consequence of the great sacrifice for sin, the sinner no longer feels a guilty conscience to be a bar to his approach. He has now heard of something which clears his conscience, and gives him confidence. He may come as he is, and he may come with boldness. That which he once saw in God only terrified and repelled; that which he now sees, removes all fear, and draws him nigh. He sees in Christ the remover of all obstructions; the new and living way; the way, and the truth, and the life. This cheers him. He sees in Christ the sinner's claim, the sinner's merit, the sinner's recommendation. He takes Him as such, and is glad. He sees in the name of Christ the sinner's plea and passport. He uses it as such, and goes with it to the Father.

     What access, what liberty, what boldness is this!  How free the invitation! how wide the welcome!  how sure the reception! All, all are bidden, nay, besought to come! The gate stands ever open: at the gate the ambassador, to beckon you in; and over the gate the inscription, enter. The way in is sprinkled with blood, that you may walk on it in safety; for otherwise the earth would open and swallow you up. Will you not, then, go in? As freely and as confidently as Adam before he fell, or as any angel above goes into the presence of God, you may go, though a sinner all over. Go, then, go in; go up to the mercy seat; go straight to God. He will not turn you out, nor disallow your claim, nor withhold His love.

     III. By whom.-The Spirit, the one Spirit, the whole Trinity has to do with our return and reception. The Father throws open His presence chamber, the Holy of Holies where He dwells; the Son provides the way for our restoration, by answering in His death all the ends that could have been served by our exclusion; and the Holy Spirit conducts us into the Father's presence, along the new and living way.

     It is this Spirit that makes us feel the misery of exclusion, and to desire re-entrance. For the excluded sinner is not alive to the peril or the sadness of his banishment. He is content with it, and prefers it greatly to the presence of a Being whom he does not love, and whose acquaintanceship would only increase the weariness of life. 'What is God to me,' he says, 'but a being with whom I have no sympathy; whose nature, laws, feelings, joys, are quite uncongenial to anything in me? If He gets His way, I cannot get mine; if His will is right, mine is wrong; if He hates sin, then He hates what I love; if He wishes His creatures to be like Him, then He wishes me to be what I abhor being, and am determined not to be. Nearness to Him would be hell; and, bad as this world is, to bring Him into it would make it ten times worse; and my only hope of happiness is to get as far from Him as I can; to keep Him out of my soul, and to banish Him from my thoughts.' But when the Holy Spirit comes to a soul, He reverses all this. He makes the shut-out sinner alive to the sadness of the exclusion; He shows him that it is the want of God that is his misery; that his soul was made for God, and that in the absence of God from the soul there can be no more true joy than there could be light in the world if the sun were quenched. Then the sinner begins to long after God and to desire access. Then he puts his hand into that of the Spirit, and says, 'Oh lead me in, oh lead me back to God; life is not worth living if God is not in it; existence is a blank if God be not its center; there is no joy for me save in the living God.'

     The Spirit then shows us the way,-the new and living way,-so sure, so free, so blessed, so suitable. Then He takes us by the hand, and leads us in. Nay, He comes in, and dwells in us as the Spirit of adoption. He fills us with divine light, and sheds abroad in our hearts all the love of God.

     Thus begun, our intercourse is carried on by time same Spirit, in the same way, with the same continual reference to the blood; for, from first to last, the blood is made use of by the Spirit for maintaining confidence in us unbroken. Never does He leave us, nor allow us to lose sight of the blood. It is through Him that communion between the soul and God is maintained. He draws forth the feelings of the soul to God, and pours back the feelings of God into the soul; keeping up a real, close, living fellowship; making us conscious of a vital contact of the soul with God; not the mere intercourse of words or sentiments, but the living intercourse of spirit with spirit,-our spirit with the great Father of spirits; the communication between person and person, friend and friend. The Spirit helpeth our infirmities; teaches us what to ask, and how to ask it; makes intercession in us, and for us; calls forth in us the groanings which cannot be uttered.

     This Spirit is one. From the beginning it has been so; one Father, one Mediator, one Spirit. Not one Spirit for one age, and another for another; one for the Jew, and another for the Gentile; but one Spirit for all ages, dispensations, nations: 'By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body.' It is one Spirit of adoption; one Spirit of confidence; one Spirit of prayer and intercession; one Spirit of fellowship; one Spirit of joy, love, hope, faith, and holiness. The same Spirit that is in Christ is in the Church, and in each saint. The fruits of this one Spirit are the same everywhere; the same conviction of sin, the same repentance, the same faith, the same love,-all evidences of the one great, pervading, all-working Spirit.

     And this Spirit is Love; love as truly as the Father and the Son. The Father loves, the Son loves, and the Spirit loves! In the threefold Godhead there is the One Love. God is love!

     Accept, then, His love. Put your hand in His, and let Him lead you in to the Father. He is willing to do it. Refuse Him not.

     Grieve not the Spirit. Quench not the Spirit. In putting Him away, you put away everything; for without Him there is no knowledge of and no introduction to, the Father or the Son!