The Accessible God
by Don Roberts, B.A., M.Div.
One of the greatest wonders revealed in Scripture is the truth that an omnipotent and holy God can be approached by weak and sinful men. This is exactly the thought conveyed by doctrine of accessibility. The word accessible means "easy to approach or enter" or "open to the influence of someone or something." The word access itself means "a way or means of approach, a coming towards, a coming near to, the right to come into." Therefore to say that God is accessible, or that we have access to God, is to say that God has provided a way whereby man may approach and come near to Him.
I want to say at the outset that Bible doctrine is absolutely fundamental and extremely practical in nature. Perhaps you are a needy soul who is experiencing loneliness, a grieved soul who is mourning the loss of a loved one, an ambitious soul who needs a clear direction from God concerning some decision, a troubled soul who is seeking for peace, or a lost soul who is seeking salvation. Let me assure you, dear friend, that God is accessible! Today you can be ushered into His awesome presence, experience His magnanimous grace, and receive of Him that for which your soul hungers and thirsts!
The word access is found three (3) times in the New Testament--Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:18, and Ephesians 3:12. Each one of these usages reveals something unique and special about this access we have to God. Together they lend themselves to the encouragement of God's people inasmuch as God has made Himself accessible by mankind! In the three passages cited, the word access is the translation of the Greek word prosagoge, a combination of pros (towards) and ago (to lead, to go). The word thus has reference to "a leading toward someone or something, a leading into the presence of, a drawing near."
It had at least two clear usages at the time Paul penned it in his epistles to the Ephesians and the Romans. First, it was a nautical term that referred to the approach of a ship to a haven or harbor of mooring and safety. It was also used to describe the common man of mean societal standing who had access to a dignitary because of the assistance or favor of another. We now have these two vivid pictures before us: a ship that has sailed on the open sea and now enters a haven of rest, and an individual with no credentials of his own who, through the merits or standing of another, is escorted into the presence of a dignitary.
In Romans 5:2, the Scripture says "by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein ye stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." The word also points back to verse 1. There we are told that "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The word through is dia, a Greek preposition signifying agency. Jesus Christ Himself is the agent that establishes peace between God and man. "Peace with God " is a blessed privilege in our salvation. The also therefore speaks of another blessed privilege that is ours in Christ in addition to peace, and Jesus is the agent in both privileges. Jesus is the access to God's grace. He is a haven of rest, a safe harbor of mooring, for Christian seamen tossed to and fro on the troubled seas of life.
Moreover, our access to God's grace and power is a permanent possession of the child of God. Notice the two verbs associated with this access into grace. They are the verbs "we stand" and "we have." Both are perfect tense in the Greek text, which speaks of abiding results in the present as a result of an action in the past. The Holy Spirit was selective here in the choice of tenses. First, the Lord means to tell us that once a man is justified through faith in Jesus Christ, and saved by grace, this grace becomes his permanent standing before God. This is a far cry from the postulations of those who understand faith as a whole system of commandments to be obeyed prior to the ministration of grace. Second, the Lord means to say that the access is our permanent possession. The force of the entire phrase is "we have permanent access by faith into this grace wherein we permanently stand." That, my friend, is encouragement! The Lord cares not what kind of difficulty you may find yourself in today. He knew about it long before it happened. What God does want us to understand is that His grace is available to us on a permanent basis, and that your access to His gracious presence in every situation of life is a permanent privilege. In summary, Romans 5:2 tells us that our access to God's grace is a fruit or by-product of our justification by faith. It is ours in addition to peace with God. This access to God and His grace is a permanent possession, and our standing in grace is also permanent.
It is no wonder then that Paul continues, saying "and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." The word hope is elpis. It never conveys the idea of "I hope so" as we hear so often. This word elpis is best defined as "confident expectation" with no prospect of doubt. The child of God who has been justified by faith in Jesus Christ has permanent access to God's grace as well as a permanent standing in it. As a result of these permanent benefits of justification by faith, the one who possesses permanent salvation in Christ can rejoice and shout God's praises with the confident expectation the Lord will surely finish that good work that was begun in him. Even as Romans 8:18 declares, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us."
Thank God for a permanent standing in grace, and for the permanent access to His grace and presence in all of life's paths! Dear friend, this grace is available to all who place their trust in Jesus, and call upon Him for the saving of their souls. I urge you to surrender your heart and life to Christ! Many feel that it would cost them too much to be saved. The fact is, based upon the testimony of the truth at hand, it costs a sinner too much not to be saved.
In Ephesians 2:18, the Bible speaks of that access which all of God's people, both Jew and Gentile, have in prayer. Here the Scripture says, "For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father." This verse portrays the father as the object of our praying, and the One Who is addressed in prayer. It reveals the Son as the Agent by Whose mercies, credentials and favor we are received into God's presence. It reveals the Spirit as the One Whose instrumentality ushers us into the very presence of God.
To simplify all the Greek exegesis, here is what the verse pictures. The child of God desires an audience with God in prayer. The Spirit of God dwelling within him ushers him into the throne room, causing him to know and sense the presence of God. On the Father's right hand is the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ. In His right hand is a scepter of righteousness. Jesus lifts the scepter in our direction, signifying our acceptance in God's presence on the basis of His blood that has washed away our sins. The Father is now ready to fellowship with His child, and to hear all petitions.
Thus it may be said that in prayer it is the Spirit Who escorts us to the throne of grace, the Son Who approves us there, and the Father Who hears us there! Dear friend, prayer is indeed a glorious and majestic privilege! I may never have an audience with the President of the United States. Not to worry! At this present hour I have access and an audience in the presence of God Almighty through His blessed Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! What greater privilege could be afforded a sinner?
In Ephesians 3:12, we find additional light on this access with respect to prayer. The Scripture says, "In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him." In direct connection with this access, we have boldness! The word means "boldness of speech" or "much outspokenness." It means that my access to God's presence includes a privilege of speech. Speaking plainly, it implies that God wants me to feel free to say whatever is on my heart. He wants me to cast all my cares upon Him! He wants me to tell all! Thus in this access that Jesus provides us is an openness, a frankness, a freedom of speech with God in prayer!
The phrase "with confidence" is significant. The word confidence here means "persuasion and assurance." It is with absolute assurance and confidence that that I know I am welcome in prayer, and have this access with boldness toward God.
All of this is "by the faith of him." This does not say "by my faith in him." It rather says "his faith." What does it mean to have access and boldness with confidence by His faith? Well, this embraces at least three ideas. First, the Lord Jesus is the source of faith as the Living Word. Second, any faith that we possess is derived directly from Him as the source. Third, the idea of faithfulness is comprehended in faith, so that we understand that his faith embraces his faithfulness as well. No doubt the faithfulness of Jesus to His promises is the foundation of confidence and assurance for the individual who seeks God in the place of prayer.
The Scriptures clearly reveal to us that God is an accessible God! This accessibility is a benefit that comes to us as a result of our justification by faith in Jesus Christ. Moreover, it is a permanent benefit along with our permanent standing in grace. This access affords us privileges in prayer wherein each member of the Godhead--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--play a significant role. Because of Christ's faithfulness, and the faith we derive from Him, we approach the throne of grace with boldness and assurance, knowing we are welcome in this place of prayer!