Have you ever had VIP access to something? A concert, a sports game, a play? Think about that experience; how great it was, how it felt to be able to go somewhere others couldn't.
These two verses are all about that kind of access we have as believers, but not to a concert or a ball game - but to our maker, the creator of everything! To the one who is sovereign over everything, who knows everything and is working our lives into his story and plan for the world. We have access to him!
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:17-18 ESV)
There are so many special about this text. The first being, we have a clear picture of what sometimes can be a fuzzy, or abstract doctrine: the Trinity. We see clearly here that the Father, Son and Spirit work in perfect community and unity for our redemptive sake.
For through [Jesus] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:18 ESV, emphasis added)
The second special thing is that these two verses function as a bit of a bridge between verses 11-16 and 19-22. Verse 17 tells us that because Jesus brought peace to those near and far, those who are near and were once far now have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Verse 18 reminds us that our access to the Father, is only because of Jesus and his saving work. We had no right or privilege of approaching the Father before Jesus. Paul reminds Timothy that there is only one mediator between God and man:
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:5-6 ESV)
The commentators for the ESV Study Bible write so well:
"To draw near to God and to enjoy him forever in a new creation is both mankind’s greatest good and the ultimate accomplishment of Christ’s earthly work of redemption."
And the Westminister Catechism also sums up this sentiment with it's explanation of man's ultimate purpose: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We can only do this by the access granted to us by Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.
But, because of that access, we can experience the presence of God! We can glorify him and enjoy him forever because of what Jesus has done.
We see some really clear pictures of this in two stories of Godly men as their taken up to the presence and throne room of God:
First, with Isaiah, a prophet of God in the Old Testament:
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:1-7 ESV)
Then, to John, Jesus' closest friend and disciple and pastor to many early churches:
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:12-18 ESV)
What's the difference between these stories?
The difference is that because of Jesus, John actually belongs in the presence of God, while with Isaiah, he did not belong, and had to be cleansed to be there!
We, like John, belong in the presence of God because of Jesus.
Meditation / Journaling
How do you see Jesus, The Holy Spirit and the Father working in your life?
Do you feel like you have access to God, the creator of everything? Why or why not?
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 ESV)
Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God's grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. (Ephesians 3:7-12 ESV)
Spend time in prayer and worship thanking God for his gift of grace that brought us access to himself. We've been given access to the presence of God because of the finished work of Jesus! Let that magnify your worship of him.