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Accessing the Throne of Grace: A Good Friday Meditation

Accessing the Throne of Grace: A Good Friday Meditation

Bruce Atkinson, Ph.D.
Special to VIRTUEONLINE
www.virtueonline.org
March 29, 2021

On the cross, Jesus "cried out again with a loud voice,
and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple
was torn in two from top to bottom;
and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split..."

(Matthew 27:50-51)

The symbolic purpose of the inner temple veil was to separate the sacredness of God from the profaneness of human beings. Except occasionally by the mediation of priests, people did not have personal access to God. The symbolism of its being ripped in two was plain, that is, the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus as the perfect Lamb of God opened the door to a direct availability to the Father, through Christ. No more need of priestly mediation.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone'. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:11-12)

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

The Significance of the Veil of the Temple (from Southwest Radio Ministries)

The "veil" in this passage refers to the curtain separating the Holy of Holies - the most holy place - from the rest of the temple. The Holy of Holies was off limits for everyone except for the High Priest on the annual Day of Atonement. A full account of this is given in Leviticus 16. The Holy of Holies contained the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. Josephus reported that this veil was four inches thick, it was changed every year, and that horses tied to each side could not pull it apart.

With the ripping of the veil from top to bottom, the way of access to God was opened and made available to all who put their faith in Jesus Christ. Every believer in Jesus can come directly to God through His shed blood. We do not need any priest or intermediary, or go-between. The way has been opened for every believer.

Hebrews 9:6-8 explains, "Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle. . .But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood. . .the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest..."

We don't have to pass through the veil. It is gone. The blood of Jesus is the way of entry. Hebrew 10:19-20 reveals this truth, "Having therefore, brethren, 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. . ."

The ripping of this veil or curtain from top to bottom suggests that this is something that God has done. Had the veil been ripped from the bottom - within the reach of men - to the top, that would suggest that this ripping and tearing was something that man had done.

God was, and still is, fully satisfied with the propitiatory sacrifice that Jesus Christ has offered. God has accepted the death of Christ, and consequently, God, by His grace and mercy, has removed that veil. This is also suggested by the fact that the veil could only be ripped in two with great effort, because of its thickness and because of the way it was constructed, i.e., with several layers of matted veils. But that it was ripped without difficulty suggests that this was indeed God's work.

Allow me share with you now some spiritual knowledge from the venerable C.H. Spurgeon's sermon on "The Throne of Grace" (1871).

"... it is clear from the connection of our text, that the interposition of the Lord Jesus Christ is essential to acceptable prayer. As prayer will not be truly prayer without the Spirit of God, so it will not be prevailing prayer without the Son of God. [This is why Christians generally end their prayers "in Jesus' name" or some similar phrase indicating our one and only divine-human mediator.] He, the Great High Priest, must go within the veil for us; nay, through his crucified person the veil must be entirely taken away, for until then, we are shut out from the living God.

If in prayer we come to a throne, it is clear that our spirit should, in the first place, be one of lowly reverence It is expected that the subject in approaching to the king should pay him homage and honor. Let pride bite the curb at a distance, let treason lurk in corners, for only lowly reverence may come before the king himself when he sits clothed in his robes of majesty. In our case, the king before whom we come is the highest of all monarchs, the King of kings, the Lord of lords.

The throne to which we are bidden to come is the throne of grace. It is a throne set up on purpose for the dispensation of grace; a throne from which every utterance is an utterance of grace; the scepter that is stretched out from it is the silver scepter of grace; the decrees proclaimed from it are purposes of grace; the gifts that are scattered down its golden steps are gifts of grace; and He that sits upon the throne is grace itself. This excludes everyone else; even His apostles and His mother could not have paid the price; only He is qualified to be our Mediator.

If in prayer I come before a throne of grace, then the faults of my prayer will be overlooked. Our Lord Jesus Christ, takes care to alter and amend every prayer before He presents it, and He makes the prayer perfect with His perfection, and prevalent with His own merits. God looks upon the prayer, as presented through Christ, and forgives all its own inherent faultiness. How this ought to encourage any of us who feel ourselves to be feeble, wandering, and unskillful in prayer. If you cannot plead with God as sometimes you did in years gone by, if you feel as if somehow or other you had grown rusty in the work of supplication, never give over, but come still, yea and come oftener, for it is not a throne of severe criticism, it is a throne of grace to which you come.

Then, further, inasmuch as it is a throne of grace, the faults of the petitioner himself shall not prevent the success of his prayer. Oh, what faults there are in us! To come before a throne how unfit we are-- we, that are all defiled with sin within and without! Dare any of you think of praying were it not that God's throne is a throne of grace?

If it be a throne of grace, then the desires of the pleader will be interpreted. If I cannot find words in which to utter my desires, God in his grace will read my desires without the words. He takes the meaning of his saints, the meaning of their groans.

Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the power of the blood of Jesus with God can never fail. It speaks when we are silent, and it prevails when we are defeated. Let us come boldly, for we hear the gospel promise in our hearts.
'The gospel bears my spirit up, A faithful and unchanging God
Lays the foundation for my hope, In oaths, promises, and in blood.'

May God the Holy Spirit help us to use 'the throne of grace' aright from this time forward. Amen."

To summarize, the NT scriptures are clear: no other mediators are necessary. We can approach God's throne of grace boldly, just us, with humble and worshipful hearts. Paul reminds us, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We have the Lord Jesus interceding for us and we have the Holy Spirit within; therefore, we have direct access to God. All other mediators are usurpers, including angels, saints, Mary, church traditions, rituals, and symbols. We would we want to seek these lesser things and people when we can go to the top, to the Father Himself?

A warning to the churches. The true invisible Church is that group of elect individuals who are accurately recognized only by the Lord. This true Church always remains unified with Jesus Christ and the Apostles, as indicated in Jesus' prayer in John 17. But virtually all church traditions and institutions in the world do move away from that unity from time to time, erecting false mediators between God and His people. As Archbishop Thomas Cranmer put it, "There was never anything so well devised by men which in continuance of time hath not been corrupted." There are no perfect churches in the world.

Scripture itself, as the written Word of God, is the only fully trustworthy and authoritative tradition (1 Timothy 3:16). Even children can understand the basics of the gospel. Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children." (Matt 11:25). And because the veil of separation was destroyed and Pentecost occurred, we also have the trustworthy Interpreter within, the Holy Spirit, who "guides us into all truth" (John 16:13).

We don't need highly educated priests and bishops to interpret the scriptures for us, even though at times they can be helpful. We just need to be reverently prayerful and to boldly approach the throne of grace (and His authoritative Word) with a humble heart.

NOTE: For further information on the relationship between Christ and the priesthood, and for lessons on directly accessing the Father in prayer, see these articles:

https://awftl.podbean.com/e/as-a-jesus-follower-you-have-no-need-for-an-intermediary-such-as-a-minister-between-you-and-god-because-god-sees-jesus-in-you/

https://virtueonline.org/lessons-prayer

https://virtueonline.org/role-spiritual-priesthood-ceremonial-versus-actual

Dr. Bruce Atkinson is a practicing psychologist and Christian counselor in the Atlanta area. He earned a PhD in clinical psychology and MA in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is a USAF Veteran (medic) who served in Vietnam. He is also a member of the Anglican Church in North America and is Moderator and a frequent contributor to VirtueOnline.org

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