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Tonight’s Question: How do we come to God?

 This question can be answered from 3 general perspectives, Worship, Prayer, and Standing.  That is our standing before God.  Once we establish our standing before God, he then becomes the object of our worship and prayers.

1. The book of Genesis is foundational for this topic, and brings us back to the beginning. Because really this question points us the Bible’s good news, that is forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God our creator. It possesses the Words of God concerning who man is, and where he came from.

2. Before we can answer the how we must establish the why we come to God.

From Genesis 1 we observe here:

God is the creator of all that we see.

We are the creatures not the Creator

Man & Woman created in the image of God

Man & Woman in unbroken fellowship with God

Man & Woman receive purpose from God

Short Description of Man’s Original Estate before he fell:

“We must, I say, remember from what kind of life man fell. He was, in every respect, happy; his life, therefore, had alike respect to his body and his soul, since in his soul a right judgment and a proper government of the affections prevailed, there also life reigned; in his body there was no defect, wherefore he was wholly free from death. His earthly life truly would have been temporal; yet he would have passed into heaven without death, and without injury.” -John Calvin

From Genesis 2 we observe:

The LORD took the man and placed him in the garden to tend it.

The LORD made woman from man, for a helper.

Man & Woman receive commands from God, that they must obey or suffer consequences, which was death. (They were free to eat of any tree in the garden, except that of the knowledge of good & evil.

Read Genesis 3

We observe here:

Woman tempted by serpent and sins against God.

Man consents with the woman’s act and sins in violation against God’s law.

Man & Woman become ashamed of their wickedness, cover themselves with fig leaves.

God covers them with animal skins, thereby promising His provision for sin.

God pronounces curse upon man & woman & serpent.

He will provide Saviour through the seed of the woman.

God drives them out of the garden, and placed a cherubim to guard the way to the tree of life, therefore signifying man & woman’s separation from God. Many men have altogether denied the fall of man, and have said that this account is merely a mythological scenario depicting Adam as a “bad example”, or as an explanation of the presence of evil in the world.

I assert to you that the this is an understatement, for the effects of Adam’s sin is much more far reaching then this. For because of this, our destiny is bound for an eternal misery beyond human description. We as Christians witnessing, and confessing that Scripture is God-breathed, being self-authenticated by His Holy Spirit, affirm that the consequences to Adam’s sin were not isolated, but effected all of His descendants, all of His offspring, each and every man, and woman and child. David declares, that Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me. Adding to this, Paul declares in His various epistles that in Adam all die, and from one man’s sin death came to all men. Needless to say, Man is separated from God his creator and will face the consequences of his sin.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A word on death: “Death is now a terror to us, because there is a kind of annihilation, as it respects the body. The soul feels the curse of God. We also see what is the cause of death, namely alienation from God. Under the name of death is understood all those sufferings in which Adam involved himself by his defection. As soon as he revolted from God, the fountain of life, he was cast down from his previous state. This was in order that he might perceive the life of man without God to be wretched and lost, and therefore differing nothing from death. The condition of man after his sin is not improperly called both the loss of life, and death. The sufferings and evils both of soul and body, with which man is troubled so long as he is on earth, are a kind of entrance into death, till death itself entirely absorbs him. The Scripture everywhere calls those dead who, being oppressed by the tyranny of sin and Satan, breath nothing but their own destruction. How it was that God threatened death to Adam on the day in which he should touch the fruit, when he long deferred the punishment? Adam was given over to death, and death began its reign in him, until grace should bring a remedy.” –John Calvin

Why is this important?  So what if man is in his sin. . .from dust we came to dust we return. God has appointed a day in which all men will be judged (thought & deed). Acts 17 & Revelation 20

Those who do not measure up to God’s law by their works will be cast into utter darkness where there is a weeping & gnashing of teeth, and where the worm dies not, where the fire that burns is not quenched.

God is Holy and utterly perfect and is angry at sin.  Our sins, in Adam and by choice, deserve His eternal wrath.

A Word on God’s Holiness:

“The scriptures abundantly ascribe holiness to God.  He is very frequently called "holy", and "the Holy One"; this title he takes to himself. It is often given him by others, angels and men. Without holiness he would not be that perfect being he is. God’s ways and works are perfect, and so is his nature; being just and true, and without iniquity. Holiness is the purity and honesty of his nature. His nature is so pure, as to be without spot or stain, or anything like it.

He is light and purity itself, and in him is no darkness or impurity at all. He is of a purer heart and mind than to have one sinful thought in it: his thoughts are not as ours. He is the pattern of purity and holiness. Men should be holy, as and because he is holy. it is one of the unchanging perfection’s of God, in which he is to be followed. Though it cannot be attained to, as it is in him.” –John Gill

A Word about the Day of the LORD approaching:

“There are the black clouds of God’s wrath now hanging directly over your heads, full of the dreadful storm, and big with thunder; and were it not for the restraining hand of God, it would immediately burst forth upon you. The sovereign pleasure of God, for the present, stays his rough wind; otherwise it would come with fury, and your destruction would come like a whirlwind, and you would be like the chaff of the summer threshing floor. The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the longer the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. It is true, that judgment against your evil works has not been executed hitherto; the floods of God’s vengeance have been withheld; but your guilt in the mean time is constantly increasing, and you are every day treasuring up more wrath; the waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back, that are unwilling to be stopped, and press hard to go forward. If God should only withdraw his hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God, would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it. The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.” –Jonathan Edwards

Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

John 3:36 He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him.

Romans 2:5 But in accordance with your hardness and your unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness----indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek.

Romans 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-10 . .in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

A Word about God’s anger and wrath:

“That Anger belongs to God, is denied by some philosophers, because it is a passion. They allow grace, good will, and generosity in God but not anger. They suppose it to be a weakness, and even a sort of madness. This is inappropriate a wise and good man, and much more inappropriate for Deity. Some deny that either is in God; neither favour and good will, nor anger and wrath.They imagine he has no concern in the affairs of men, and neither regards their good actions, or their bad ones; and so is neither pleased or displeased with them. He is neither kind and favourable to them.He is not angry with them, nor resents what is done by them. But the scriptures everywhere ascribe anger to God They often speak of it, as being kindled against specific people, and against men in general. Anger is to be considered not as a passion, or affection in God, as it is in men. The anger of God is compared to fire in Scripture, and is often said to be kindled.We are not to imagine, when God is said to be angry, that there is any commotion or disturbance in His mind. This includes being ruffled and discomposed, or that there is any pain or uneasiness in him, as in human minds. It may be in finite created spirits, but not in an infinite and uncreated one, as God is.  Much less is this to be considered as a criminal passion in him, as it too often is in men. God is a pure and holy being without iniquity. It is certain there was anger in the human nature of Christ, in whom there was no sin, and so there may be in the divine mind, without weakness or sin. Anger in God is none other than a disgust with sin, and with sinners. It is often said in Scripture, that such and such a thing displeased him, or was evil, and not right in his sight.  All sin is displeasing to God; he cannot take any pleasure in it, nor look upon it with delight; it is so contrary to his nature, and repugnant to his will, he cannot but have dislike to it, and an hatred of it.” –John Gill

Surely our works will make us ready to meet God;  We can come to God based on our works. We can strive to keep His law in every point even from the heart.

Isaiah 59:3 For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in empty words and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity. They hatch vipers' eggs and weave the spider's web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a viper breaks out. Their webs will not become garments, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, And there is no justice in their ways; They have made themselves crooked paths.

We cannot come to God based on our works. Our works are but filthy rags in His sight. . .How then can we come to God? With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. He has provided salvation through His Son Jesus Christ, who was bruised, beaten, and crucified for our sins.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The saving work of Christ can be summarized in stating that He is the mediator between God and men.

A Mediator by definition brings together parties who are out of communication and who may be alienated, estranged, or at war with one another. Moses was mediator of sorts, in that he spoke to Israel on the LORD’s behalf, and speaking to God on Israel’s behalf when they had sinned. In this manner he was foreshadowing the work of Christ. Between God and Men there is a needed reconciliation, for every member of mankind is by nature at enmity with God, and God will by no means clear the guilty. Reconciliation is needed but only can take place if God’s wrath is quenched.

Jesus Christ our Lord was sent to make peace between God and His people. On the cross he took our place, carried our identity, bore the curse due to us, and this by His sacrificial shedding of His righteous blood. Everything in our faith depends on His person and work upon the cross, and His resurrection from the grave. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and you are still in your sins, and in fear awaiting the great day of the LORD. We are saved from the wrath of God, because of Christ.  He satisfied fully God’s wrath for us.  Christ makes us able to stand before God.  He clothes us in His righteousness.  He fulfilled all points of the law, and the Father was well pleased.  He always occupied himself with the Father’s will.  Christ satisfies the just displeasure of God by removing the guilt of sin makes intercession for those whom the Father has given Him.  He actually makes their persons and services acceptable to God. How do we then come to God? It is through Jesus Christ alone, and none else.  We have one mediator, and one sacrifice.  We must oppose who say that there are many ways to God, and those who would add anything, anything at all to Christ’s work upon the cross.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. “This refers to anything or person, be it ever so great, or whatever show of power and strength, of holiness and religion, it makes. None but the name of Jesus, his person, blood, and righteousness.” –John Gill

Observe these scriptures concerning Christ as our Mediator:

Hebrews 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

I Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Hebrews 12:24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. I assert that the Old Testament or Old Covenant is indispensable for our knowledge of the Gospel of Christ. In the Old Testament the blood of bulls and goats were used in the sacrifices, and it was spread on the mercy seat. The blood of Christ is sometimes called the blood of sprinkling, sprinkled upon the mercy seat. It calls for forgiveness for men. It is sprinkled on their consciences, and speaks peace and remission to them, and cleanses from all sin. The blood is what the Father saw, and in which the atonement was made.  The Book of Leviticus tells us that God is Holy and that we must come blood.  Observe the day of atonement in Leviticus 34.  Observe then the Jewish Passover. It was by the blood of the Passover lamb without blemish and without spot that was spread on the door posts that caused the angel of death to pass by or pass over. Read Hebrew 9:1-15 These verses tell us specifically that we come to God through the blood of Christ. The New Testament is strongly influenced by the O.T. examples include: Messiah, Son of David, Second Adam, suffering servant, prophet, priest after the order of Melchizedek, King, Lamb of God, sacrifice, atonement, justification, kingdom of God, covenant, veil, etc.

Leviticus 17:11For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. “The animal life, the life of every creature, and even the animal life of man is the blood. It is the principal part which first appears in generation. It is the fountain of life, the first that lives, and the last that dies. It is the primary seat of the life. Motion and pulsation take their rise from it. Innate heat is produced, the vital spirit is generated, and the life consists. It is spread all over the body.” –John Gill

“It was a substitutionary sacrifice and atonement, pointing to the sacrifice and atonement of Christ, in the room and stead of his people. There is no atonement, no remission of sins without shedding of blood. The reason of the prohibition of eating blood was to direct to that blood as the atonement for sin and to keep up a reverence of it. Now that blood has been shed and atonement made by it, the end of the law is answered. . .” –John Gill

Hebrews 9:22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.“All ‘except a few things’, as one version translates this.  Some things were cleansed by water, and others purged by fire.  There was no representative remission without it. There can be no real remission but by, the blood of Christ. No instance can be given of pardon without it. If it could have been otherwise, the blood of Christ had not been shed. It would seem to be shed in vain, and his satisfaction to be unnecessary. It is disagreeable to the justice of God to forgive sin without satisfaction. It is not consistent with his truthfulness, and faithfulness to his word. It is a common saying with the Jews, and often to be met with in their writings, "there is no atonementbut by blood”.  The shedding of it  flows out of the body of the sacrifice as it is poured out on the altar. The pouring of the blood at the four corners, and at the bottom of the altar, were the chief rites required in sacrifices; they did reckon removal to be removal, unless the altar was wet by the blood of the sacrifice.” –John Gill

We turn our attention to the first letter of the apostle John written to Jewish believers:

We observe here:

And if anyone sins we have an Advocate with the Father He Himself is the satisfaction for our sinsWho is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.

He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

Let us look at these verses telling us that we must come to God only through Christ:

THE WAY

John 14:6,7 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him."“Christ is not merely the way, as he goes before his people as an example, or merely as a prophet, pointing out to them by his teaching the way of salvation. He is the way of salvation itself by his obedience and sacrifice, and there no other. He is the way of his Father's appointing, and is entirely pleasing to the perfections of God.  He is suitable to the case and condition of sinners.  He is the way to all the  blessings. He is the way to heaven.  He is  entered into it himself by his own blood, and has opened the way to it by himself for his people.” –John Gill

THE GATE

Matthew 7:13,14 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.“By the ‘strait gate’ is meant Christ himself. He elsewhere calls himself ‘the door’, by whom we have access unto him. We are let into communion with him, and a participation of all the blessings of grace. He is the gate of heaven, through which we have boldness to enter into the holiest of all by faith and hope now. There will be for us an abundant entrance into the kingdom and glory of God, through his blood and righteousness.” –John Gill

THE DOOR

John 10:7 Then Jesus said to them again, "Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

“He is the door of the sheep, by which they are let into the presence of his Father, and have communion with him, and partake of all the blessings of grace. It is through him that sanctifying, justifying, pardoning, and adopting grace, are given to them. They brought into the enjoyment of them. It is through him they have all their peace, joy, and comfort, and deliverance from, and victory over all their enemies. Through him they have a right unto eternal life. He is the door into heaven itself.” –John Gill

THE WEDDING GARMENT

Matthew 22:11,13 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. So he said to him, `Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, `Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

“The wedding garment is not good works, or a holy life. It is not any specific grace of the Spirit. It is not charity, or humility, or repentance, or any other. It is none but the righteousness of Christ. Though good works are the outward garments of believers and these greatly adorn the teaching of Christ, they are imperfect, and have their spots, and need washing in the blood of Christ. . .” –John Gill

THE VEIL

Luke 23:44-47 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, `into Your hands I commit My spirit.'" Having said this, He breathed His last.So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!"

“The veil was curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the rest of the temple. Jesus’ death opened the way into the presence of God.” –John Calvin 

Granted that nowhere did Christ call himself the veil, however this act of God upon the temple gives us glimpse of what the death of Christ actually did.

“Christ, the true and everlasting Priest, having abolished the figures of the law, opened up for us by his blood the way to the heavenly sanctuary, that we may no longer stand at a distance within the porch, but may freely advance into the presence of God. For so long as the shadowy worship lasted, a veil was hung up before the earthly sanctuary, in order to keep the people not only from entering but from seeing it. Now Christ, by removing the written transgressions which were opposed to us, removed every obstruction, that, relying on him as Mediator, we may all be a royal priesthood. The tearing of the veil was not only an cancellation of the ceremonies which existed under the law, but was, in some respects, an opening of heaven, that God may now invite the members of his Son to approach him with understanding.” –John Calvin

Christ continues as the High Preist in the Heavenly tabernacle, “revealing to men the truth concerning God and their relation to Him, persuades and enables them to receive the truth, and directs and sustains them in all circumstances of life, so as to perfect their final deliverance. . . Christ’s present work, which He carries forward through human messengers, is to persuade those for whom He achieved reconciliation actually to receive it.” –Louis Berkoff

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

End

1Cor 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

sdandersen@juno.com

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