The Bible is clear on the human predicament: In Eden man alienated himself from God by sin.  Man was driven from the earthly paradise where he had first been blessed by the person to person relationship he had with his Creator.  Since that time it has been true that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and consequently the verdict is, “The wages of sin is death (separation from God)” (Rom. 6:23a).   Isaiah described our situation well: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God” (Isa. 59:2).    From Genesis to Revelation is unfolded God’s plan for the restoration of man to the Edenic status of fellowship.  It is the recognition, not of man reaching out and through his efforts finding God, but of God reaching out to man through grace, wherein we have the opportunity of being rightly called the children of God.

From the time of Adam and Eve being driven from Eden, the sacrifice of animals was made, and through the shedding of their blood God established a relationship with man through their faith in God.  As God selected a nation of people, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel), He established a priesthood, wherein the high priest would annually enter the Holy of Holies first in the tabernacle and then in the temple, presenting the shed blood for the atonement of sin.  While such sacrifices were insufficient for perpetual cleansing of the people, they were prophetic in looking forward to the coming of the “Lamb of God”, whose blood would be shed in behalf of fallen man.  These offerings, of themselves, could “never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11).  Only through Christ’s offering on the cross of Calvary “once for all,” by which He “hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10-14). 

The New Testament is plain in what God requests for us to be accepted in His presence.  While Christ died for all, man is given the choice of accepting His grace by faith, or rejecting it.  While we could refer to many references to such, we will refer now to the 6th chapter of Romans, wherein converts who had been dead IN sin became “dead to sin”, and, and as an act of faith, not merit, were “baptized (buried) into Christ…into his death,” and rising to “walk in newness of life” (6:1-4).   In this obedience from the heart we have the assurance of being “freed from all sin”. 

Once delivered from sin, we are assured of access to God.  Because Christ, as our high priest, having shed His blod and presented it to the Father in the heavenly Holy of Holies, the access to God has been bought and paid for.  By faith we now have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20).  It is by Christ’s righteousness, not our own, that we can have such boldness to enter into His presence.  Christ is the “high priest over the house of God”, enabling us to “draw near with a full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:21-22). 

          With such a relationship of nearness to God comes a personal responsibility.  We are to value the faith by which we have gained this access to God.  The writer of Hebrews continues, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, for he is faithful that promised” (10:23).  In a time when it was not popular to be a Christian, they would be tempted to deny or compromise their faith.  While we in the United States have been blessed with freedom to believe and confess our faith, the situation in our country is rapidly changing.  In many other countries believers are given a choice, to either deny their faith or suffer imprisonment or even death.  I read this morning that in Finland a minister has been prosecuted for teaching Biblical truth regarding sexuality.  Once a “Christian nation,” now their citizens are denied freedom.  The possible jail time for this minister is 6 years in prison, according to the article.  How long will it be before our “Christian nation” will give in to the demands of the Left, and silence our voices? In such times, let us not be found lax in our faith.  Hold it fast.  The tenth chapter of Hebrews is followed by the eleventh—sometimes referred to as “God’s hall of faith.”  That chapter gives numerous examples of those who have suffered much, but endured through faith, to receive God’s promises.

         In times of persecution, would our faith endure? The Hebrews writer makes plain that as God’s children we must stand together with other believers.  We are to “consider one another to provoke unto love and good works” (v. 24).  In the body of Christ, having drawn near unto God, we are to be drawn near unto those of like-precious faith.  We don’t become Christians in isolation from other believers.  We are one body, and such should be seen in the world.  We are admonished, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much more as we see the day approaching” (v. 25).  That day is, without doubt, the day of Christ’s return, “the day of the Lord” that comes unexpectedly upon the world as “a thief in the night…but let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love: and for an helmet, the hope of salvation, for God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep we should live together with him” (vs. 2, 8-9).   God intended this book for all generations, and as we see things worsen in our world, we should be looking for His coming.

         How near are you to God?

            Ron Bartanen lives in Sullivan, IL. He is a retired preacher.