Monday, November 19, 2012

Access to God, the Father

November 18, 2012
Pentecost XXV
Fr. Philip Eberhart

 
Access to the God the Father
Audio Blog

This morning I want to highlight a few of the verses from our reading from the letter to the Hebrews.  First of all, just take a listen again to the verses we just heard in Hebrews, written in the Message:
 
19-21 So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.
22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

All of this is dependant on one verse at the beginning of the reading – from verse 14:

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Again from The Message:

By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process.

Perfected for all time!

And in the reading the writer of the letter actually defends the statement by pulling from the promise in the Prophet Jeremiah, Chapter 31:33-34.  Jeremiah promises a New Covenant with the people of Israel – a promise that is topped off with the statement:  And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins!”

What a promise!  A clean slate forever.

So what do we do with that?

Ultimate Thanks-living!

The writer to the Hebrews has some thoughts that are some of the clearest and best, regarding our response to the amazing grace of God here!

Therefore!  There is that word! 

In the light of a permanently clean slate – and no further need or even a possibility of offering anything to God to atone for our sins – in THAT light:

 

Therefore!

There are some things that arise from the statement:

1)    We have confidence to enter in

One of my very favorite bible words is the word “access” – what we have been given through the sacrifice of Christ – as our reading puts it:  by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh) – what we have been given is ACCESS!  

ACCESS TO GOD – right into the very throne room.

A story is told of a soldier who needed to get in to see President Lincoln to deliver a message during the War between the States, but who was turned away at the White House gate.  He went to the park across the street and sat down, frustrated.  Soon a young boy came up and asked him why he was there.  He explained his mission to see the president and the young boy said simply, “Follow me.”  And the two proceeded to a back entrance to the White House grounds, walked right in past the guard post and into the White House, up right into the Oval Office, and into a high level meeting, with no opposition or challenge, much to the soldier’s surprise.  He was introduced to the President, with the words, “Dad, this soldier has something he needs to tell you.”  The young boy was Todd Lincoln, the son of the President- who had total access to His Father.

We have total access to God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus has opened the way for us to come to God!  We have total and complete ACCESS.

Paul said it this way in Romans 5:1-2

5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

And the word that the writer to the Hebrews uses here for “confidence” is also translated “boldness,  Openness or Freedom to speak” – there is the sense that we have been ushered into the very presence of God and are given the freedom to speak freely with Him about anything on our heart.

 
2) The One who ushered us in is Our Great High Priest, Jesus Himself. 

This whole section of Hebrews is making the parallel between what Jesus has done and the ancient practices of Temple Sacrifice in the Old Covenant.  The imagery is unmistakable here:

 

            We enter by the “Blood of Jesus!”  (The Lamb who was slain –                                                       Who takes away the sin of the world)

            A “High Priest” is involved – also Jesus Christ!

            Our hearts are “Sprinked Clean” – a reference to the sprinkling of the blood                                   on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, done yearly, to cleanse                               the people of their sins for that year!

            Our “bodies washed with pure water” – the symbol of the ritual washing as a worshipper
                             prepared himself to enter into the Temple worship.

 

So Now What?

 Let Us Come!

 The Table is open and this is our representation of all that we are reading, here at the Table of the Lord Jesus, set for us and welcoming us and all who will boldly enter into the promises that God has given in Jesus Christ!

 The Blood is here – The broken Body is here!!

Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith.
 
Friends, when we talk about Anglican Sacramental Theology and what is happening at on this table as we consecrate bread and wine, and as we come this is a key verse for us to know and remember!

We don’t believe either extreme about the sacraments:  What we do here is not JUST a remembrance of Jesus death, a memorial service, if you will, each week.  It is not just a SIGN of the Kingdom of God come among us.

But neither is it the ACTUAL FLESH AND BLOOD of the Savior, made new in the cup, as if by magic, to be venerated, worshipped and adored.

As Anglicans, we believe that Jesus is present here in a REAL PRESENCE – that He has made a way for us to ACCESS His presence by faith, through the use of these sacraments of bread and wine – by His design they are a “means of grace.”

Each and every time you come to this table, you have the opportunity to meet with Jesus in a special way, as you approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith!  You have been cleansed inside and out, by His Spirit in baptism and by the very water of baptism, and you have ACCESS.  What a glorious reality!!!
 

Therefore!!!!  LET US …

HOLD FAST to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful!

Our hope does not depend on us friends, it depends on the One in whom place our faith!

When you get on a plane it is not YOU who are flying – though we say we are “flying here or flying there!”  You place your faith in and enter into fully a plane, that takes you where you are destined to go for that trip.  At DIA, the plane you get on determines the destination you end up at!!

So it is with Christ!!  You are IN CHRIST as a Christian and you can hold fast to that reality and hope without wavering – the faith is the same as what you use when you go to DIA and get on a plane to fly somewhere.

AND…
 
LET US consider how to provoke one another!!
HA.   Often I don’t need to do much considering to do that!! 
Oh, but we are to provoke one another in specific ways!

Provoke one another to love and to good deeds
Don’t neglect to meet together (for worship), as some are in the habit of doing.
Encourage one another!

Provoke each other to love and to do good
Get together and worship, daily, weekly, as often as you can.
Encourage one another!

Anyone here need encouragement from time to time?

Anyone here need to be provoked to be the best you that you can be!  For Jesus… for the sake of the Kingdom of God!

We pray every week, “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”

This is how it comes friends.
In our midst – as we come boldly into His Real Presence;
As we receive grace from His Body and His Blood;
As we come to worship together, daily and weekly

People wonder why they are depressed and discouraged after they have been away from the hope of Jesus for a while.  Have you ever taken a coal out of the fireplace and placed it on the hearth?  What happens?   It goes cold quickly and black.  Place it back in the fire and what happens?
It catches fire again.

22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Amen!! And Amen!!

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