By Jimmy Tuten
Sinful man has access to God. “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18). The very thought of an approach to Jehovah God conjures blessed influences of His presence. Much is implied: access to His love, His wisdom, His omnipotent capacity to satisfy the soul in its propensities with blessings that are almost indescribable, certainly indestructible and abiding. The very need of man as a sinner is reconciliation which is effected for evermore. This is the very message that the Apostle Paul relates to the Christians in Rome when he says, “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Jews and Gentiles can be saved by grace through faith. They can come to the bosom of the eternal Father wherein is the origin of their salvation (Eph. 2:8).
Let’s look at Ephesians 2:18 a little closer and observe the following facts: the subject under consideration is our access to the Father. The predicate is that our access is effected through Christ by the Spirit. This suggests the following general outline which will be followed in this treatise: (1) The approach is to Jehovah God, (2) this access is through Christ, and (3) the one Spirit.
The Approach Is To God
It is not surprising that the text speaks of God as a Father who is loving, kind and gracious. The approach to God is through Christ, our High Priest “over the house of God” (Heb. 10:19-21). There were generally two functions of a High Priest: one was to offer a sacrifice for the people, the other was to take oversight of the house of God (tech. 3:6-7; Heb. 3:6). The church is the house of God on earth (1 Tim. 3:15). Christ “over the house of God” suggests headship, lordship and authority (Heb. 10:21; Eph. 1:18; Col. 1:22). In this context, our access is not to God who is a stern judge or to one wielding terrible power against us, but to God as a considerate Father. In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul directs our attention to God as one who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3), who has made known to us His purpose to reconcile all things to Himself (Eph. 1:9), and who has made peace through the blood of His Son (Eph. 2:13-14). In this we see the perfect graciousness of the Father to whom we can come in full assurance of sonship. In approaching God, we have access to a loving Father who reaches out to us.
The Approach Is Through Christ
When our text speaks of having an approach to God “through him,” it is speaking of the shedding of Christ’s blood (Eph. 1:13) and the sacrifice of His flesh (Eph. 1:15). It was through the curse of the cross borne by Jesus that made an approach to the Father possible (Eph. 1:16). “The way of the cross leads home”; there is no other way! It is through Jesus. Since our “iniquities have separated between you and your God” (Isa. 59:2), we need a mediator so that we can enjoy an approach to God. There is no natural access. It had to be provided. Jesus is the Mediator that provides salvation. The theme of the book of Hebrews is that “we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way; and we have in the heavenly sanctuary a great High Priest over the house of God. We have access; and He who is the way is also the end of the way; He is even now our great Priest, interceding for us, and our all-sufficient Mediator, providing us with every needful help” (The Exposition of Hebrews, Arthur W. Pink, p. 583).
More specifically, Hebrews 10 shows that there is liberty or freedom to enter into the presence of God (v. 19), that a way for us has been prepared (v. 20), and that a Guide is provided to direct us (v. 21). Truly, “no one cometh unto the Father but by Him” (Jn. 14:6). What a contrast between the new and old covenants in this regard: the dwelling place of God was sealed against the Jews of the Old Testament. Even the Levites, though privileged as they were to minister before God, were barred from the holy of holies temple worship. But now access to God can be enjoyed as a freedom, we can enter His temple as worshipers, come to His throne as supplicants and sit at the table of the Lord as happy children. Indeed, the way to heaven has been opened, renewed and consecrated through the humanity of Jesus (Jn. 3:16). “We have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (Heb. 3:12).
The Approach Is By One Spirit
The expression, “access by one Spirit” opens up many avenues of thought. In this writing we want to zero in on the specific aspect of the Spirit’s role in making known the way of approach to God. Though the work of the Spirit does not end here (the very fact that the Christian can address God as “Father” proves that He is at work in God’s children, Rom. 8:15), our concern is with the role of the Spirit in leading people to become sons of God (Rom. 8:14).
From the very dawn of creation as recorded in Genesis right on through to the conversion and life of God’s children in New Testament times, the Spirit has functioned. He has been involved in the scheme of redemption. The Spirit worked in the establishment of the church. He revealed the plan of God for its work and worship, the conditions by which one becomes a member of it and the very blueprint for godly living. Specifically, He furnished the necessary information regarding our access to the Father. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
Modern day theologians tend to become very extravagant when dealing with the role of the Spirit in making one a child of God. The better-felt-than-told concept of conversion is alive and well within religious circles today. But the Spirit inspired Scriptures teach us that God enlightens, converts and strengthens Christians through the Word of God, not some inner consciousness (Eph. 6:17; Rom. 10:8-11). The Spirit’s function in the scheme of human redemption was to reveal the will of God to man. When that will is revealed (and it is now revealed in the Holy Scriptures) and men follow it, when they do exactly what it says, no more and no less, with the motive that the Spirit assigned to it, regardless of where they are or who they are, they are being led by the Spirit. I know this is so because the Bible teaches that we resist the Spirit when we resist the message spoken by Him through inspired men (Acts 7:51-53; Neh. 9:30; 2 Chron. 36:16). When one rejects the message of salvation given by inspired men, he quenches the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19). The Spirit is grieved when one rebels against God’s will (Eph. 4:30). Even so, the Spirit bears witness to the fact that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16-17). This witness is through His testimony just as the Apostles witnessed by what they said (Acts 1:8). The prophecy of Jeremiah concerning the New Testament was fulfilled by the Spirit who “is a witness to us” (Heb. 10:15). The words of the prophet are thus quoted and asserted as the witness of the Spirit (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 10:14-20). What John wrote to the seven churches of Asia was the witness of the Spirit, for he said, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 1:11; 2:7, 11, 17). This means that when we do what the New Testament tells us to do in order to become children of God, the Holy Spirit and our spirit testify together that we have met the conditions of salvation (Rom. 8:16-17). The Spirit led or instructed us through testimony (faith comes by hearing the Word of God, Rom. 10:17), we responded to this leading in obedience to the gospel and received the remission of sins coupled with the hope of everlasting life (Mk. 16:15-16). The congeniality needed for reconciliation is effected by Spirit-led obedience to the will of God (Rom. 6:17).
How Sinful Man Approaches God . . .
As an illustration of how man approaches God, note the first recorded instance of sinful man availing himself of the access in obedience to the gospel in Acts 2. Peter, one of the twelve who was moved by the Spirit to speak on the day of Pentecost, preached an empty tomb and a risen Savior (2:4, 14-36). His appeal, based on the evidence thus presented by the Spirit through his testimony was, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ” (2:36). The power of the gospel pricked the hearts of many of the hearers on that day and they asked, “What shall we do?” (2:37). Peter told them to “repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (2:38). Three thousand responded and were added to the Church (2:47). Having been baptized into the body of Christ, they became members of the family of God, which is the Church (1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:15). “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27). The approach to God is a reality for all who obey the gospel. “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18).
Jesus is our Mediator. All mankind has the privilege of approaching God. But before that approach can be made, there must be a disposition of heart that will bring about the congeniality necessary to being joined to the Father. Obedience from the heart resulting in the washing away of the sins that separated us from Him in the first place expresses itself in belief and baptism (Rom. 6:1-6, 17). The relationship established with God is not a temporary or occasional one, but close, abiding and indestructible. The reconciliation is effected, nor for a day, but for evermore. As long as we keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21), nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39). You, dear reader, can come boldly to the throne of grace in humble obedience. Only he who does the will of the Father will enter heaven (Mt. 7:21-23).
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 2, pp. 50, 58-59
January 17, 1985