The Privilege of Access

Many of us in North America are getting used to the privileges of having access to hi-tech communications when needed. For example, cell phones have become so common that this service is routine. Computer users usually have access to the Internet, surf the Web and check e-mails as commonly as the previous generation turned on the Ed Sullivan Show and checked the mailbox. For banking needs, the lines for services with a teller have been shortened by the use of electronic payments, debit cards, and banking machines. All these technological advances make access to information and services a perceived right, rather than a privilege.

But what happens when this ACCESS isn’t available? The cell phones is out of range or the battery is dead… How about when the ISP is temporarily down or the Internet access line is busy? What if you forgot your bank card, or its password? When access is denied–even temporarily–it throws a kink into our plans and alerts us to how dependent we’ve become on the high-tech gadgets of our day.

Similarly, in the Christian life, SPIRITUAL ACCESS is a privilege that may be taken for granted. Hear the good news of Romans 5:1,2: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have ACCESS by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1,2). When a person repents and receives God’s pardon and new life through faith in Christ, he/she has access to God!

Yet, with the influence of humanism and the values of the “me generation” such access to God may be the assumed as a right of everyone. Not so. As descendants of Adam, living in a fallen world, God is the Creator, but not Father–unless and until we are reconciled to Him. Ephesians 2:12 informs us of the natural spiritual condition everyone who hasn’t been redeemed: “at that time you were without Christ,…and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” However, through faith, “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).

This “drawing near” involves personal, direct access to God! “And He [Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were afar off [Gentiles] and to those who were near [Israelites]. For through Him we both have ACCESS by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:17,18).

To appreciate the value of this access, we can compare it to the legitimate awe and fear privileged people had in ancient days–those who could approach the Kings of world empires (such as Egypt, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome). In the book of Nehemiah, for example, this cupbearer to Artaxerxes had grounds for fear when the King simply asked why his servant was sad. (It was a capital offense to be sad in the presence of the monarch, because it implied that his reign was deficient…-Neh 2: 2).[1]

Another example of the seriousness of access to a supreme king is found in the book of Esther. Although this Jewess was the Queen of Persia, she took her life in her hands when she approached Xerxes unbidden. [2] (You recall that this approach to the king was to eventually petition him to rescind the decree that would massacre the Jewish people (Esther 3:7-8:14). If Xerxes had not extended to his queen the royal scepter, she would have been executed!

Now if this access to the presence of a world ruler was so rare and awe-inspiring, how much more should we revere the significance of having access to the King of the universe–God Himself?!

The design of the Temple in Jerusalem illustrates the holiness of God and man’s unworthiness to enter His presence. God’s shekinah glory resided in the Holy of Holies, however, this sacred room could be entered only by one person (the high priest) on only one day of the year (the Day of Atonement). (Lev. 16). The architecture of the surrounding courtyards also demonstrated levels of access to God’s temple. [3] The other priests–and only priests, not mere Levites–could minister in the temple’s Holy Place. In the courtyard, the Levites could attend to the ceremonial duties such as the offerings brought by the men of Israel. At a lower level, outside the court of Israel, was the Court of Women. Here the daughters of Israel could worship. Outside and below this courtyard was the Court of the Gentiles. God-fearing non-Jews were welcome to pray in this area.[4] History records that a sign was posted on the wall in the Court of the Gentiles, warning of the death penalty to any non-Jew that would dare venture into the inner courts.

In light of these pre-New Testament examples, consider the amazing privilege we have as God’s people in Christ. We are permitted–and invited–to come into God’s presence in prayer and praise. Later in Ephesians Paul declared, “… [in Christ] we have boldness and ACCESS with confidence through faith in Him” (Eph 3:11).

The writer of Hebrews celebrates the privileges of believers’ access to God: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15,16).

We don’t, however, want to let unconfessed sin, or a resistant heart hinder the quality of this divine conversation. The Psalmist warned, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). [5]

Dear reader, have you come to appreciate your access to God through the reality of this personal relationship with Him? Or have you been neglecting this privilege by letting busyness–or the “world, the flesh, and the devil”– get in the way?

The fellow on the cell phone commercial asks, “Can you hear me now?” The LORD’s gracious answer to His people is “Yes!” So, let’s rediscover the privilege of our personal access to God: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22).


[1] The Persian emperor Artaxerxes I Longimanus reigned from 464-424 B.C.

[2] Xerxes was also known as Ahasuerus; he ruled the Persian empire from 486-465 B.C.

[3] We get a glimpse of God’s holiness and justice in the case of Aaron’s two sons who came near to God in a profane way; they died instantly (Lev.10:1,2).

[4] One reason the Lord Jesus had such righteous indignation against the money changers, is that they financially exploited worshipers, IN THE AREA where Godly non-Jews came from afar to worship the true and living God. Therefore He cleansed His temple, reminding all that it should be a House of Prayer.

“In the upper or northerly part of this large area [of the Temple renovated by Herod], on a much higher level [than the Court of the Gentiles], bounded likewise by a wall, was a second or inner enclosure–the “sanctuary” in the stricter sense (Josephus, BJ, V, v, 2)–comprising the court of the women, the court of Israel and the priests’ court, with the temple itself (Josephus, Ant, XV, xi, 5). The surrounding wall, according to Josephus (BJ, V, v, 2), was 40 cubits high on the outside, and 25 on the inside … its thickness was 5 cubits … the inner courts were considerably higher than the court of the women.” – “The Temple”/IV/II/2, I.S.B.E.

[5] See “The Believer’s Confession of Sin” at

Copyright 2005 by John Woodward. Permission is granted to reprint this article for non-commercial use. Please credit Scripture quotations (unless indicated otherwise) are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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