Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday thoughts

Today is Good Friday for Christians. As I think of what God the Father went through in watching His only begotten son suffer and die because of our sin I wonder how He feels about certain approaches to salvation. To the person who says, "I'm pretty good, God will have to let me in." Its almost like they are telling God that he overreacted in sending Jesus to die for our sin.  I wonder if God might say something like the following to that person. "If you were able to be good enough to get into heaven, why did Jesus have to die? By the way, how good is good enough? You don't set the standard for what is 'good enough', I do and there is only one person that ever has been or ever will be 'good enough' and that is Jesus. You have a choice to make. You can try to enter heaven on your own merit, in which case you will be denied, or enter on the merits of what Jesus has done, in which case I will welcome you in."

Another approach might say this, "I'm covered by grace, and I can do whatever I want cuz God loves me and will always forgive me." I wonder if God might respond this way, "Do you understand the pain my son suffered because of this sin you so freely commit. Do you realize that I turned my back on my own son because of this sin which doesn't seem to bother you but bothered me enough to have to let my son be put on a cross to die as satisfactory punishment so that I don't have to punish you for this sin? If you really knew me and how much I love you, you wouldn't be able commit this sin so easily."

All too often I hear one or the other of these two rather cavalier approaches to sin and salvation. Both of these make light of what happened on the cross that day. Today is a day to reflect on what our lives say about either our desperate dependence on, or our flippant marginalization and disregard for, what Jesus did in our place that day.

The promise of access to the Father


With the promise of the father’s love we also have the promise of access to the Father. There is a famous photograph of President John F. Kennedy working at his desk in the Oval Office while his children played nearby. Not just any children could play in that office while the President of the United States worked at his desk. Only the children of that president were given that kind of access. If an earthly, imperfect father understood the importance of granting access to his children so that they may be present with him while he worked, how much more will our heavenly father, who is the very definition of a perfect father, grant his children access to into his presence. Ephesians 2:18 says,

For through him (Jesus) we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access in one Spirit to the Father.”  (parentheses mine)

What makes being in the Father's presence such a big deal? First, there is a sense of security. When one is in the presence of their heavenly Father who is also creator of the universe there is nothing to fear. Second, there is greater boldness. When one acts in accordance with their Father's character and values they can act with great confidence, knowing that they are bringing honor to their Father in what they do because of His presence. Third, they have greater courage. The presence of God en - courages or gives courage to His children to accomplish things that apart from His presence they would never attempt. 

The presence of God is not something to be taken lightly. In the time of the temple and the Ark of the Covenant the mercy seat on the ark was considered the abode of God. Only those priests who had carefully prepared themselves could go into the Holy of Holies where the Ark was located. If a priest did not prepare themselves properly he would die upon entering. For this reason a rope was tied to the ankle of every priest who was to enter the Holy of Holies so that if they died they could be pulled out. Through Jesus the curtain separating sinful man from God’s perfect holiness was torn in two thus destroyed. Anyone who thinks they can gain access to God on their own merit will experience the same fate as the unprepared priest, eternally. It is only by the completed work of Jesus that we have confident access to the Father. In the White House, any child not belonging to the president who tried to gain access to the president would be whisked away and taken to their own parents. Only children of the president were allowed access.  As beloved children of our heavenly father we have access to him 24/7. Not because we have earned or deserve it, but Jesus Christ did everything required for our access. Hallelujah!