‘Access Denied’ is not the error message I want to get when trying to open a computer file. Not only is it frustrating but it feels like I’m being told I’m excluded. I will try of course to find a way around the computer’s ‘no’ – but it will take time and may not work. Maybe it won’t open. Maybe others have access rights, but I don’t. Maybe I’m not included.
I’m so pleased that God is never like a computer! I’m never denied access. Not because of who I am, but because of who Jesus is. Jesus always has access and if I come to the Father in Jesus’ name, I am always granted access. Every time. St Paul makes this patently clear in his Trinitarian understanding of prayer in Ephesians 2:8: ‘Through him [Christ] we have access to the Father by one Spirit.’
Tim Keller, commenting on this in his book Prayer, says:
The word ‘access’ was commonly used when an ancient king granted someone an audience. No one could simply walk into the presence of a powerful monarch. The consequences could be imprisonment or even death (cf. Esther 4:9-16). That, however, describes the powerful differential between an ancient oriental king and a commoner. The gulf between a holy God and sinful human beings is infinitely greater (1 Sam 6:10; Ps 130:3; Na 1:6). No human being can look upon God and live (Ex 33:20). Paul’s claim that we now have access to God’s very presence ‘through him’ is therefore quite astounding. We always have an audience because of what Jesus has done. His death on the cross reconciled us to God (Eph 2:16) and made him our Father.
This means we have access. To the all-mighty God of the universe. Because of Jesus. This has profound implications for life and faith! And what an incentive to pray, knowing that we will be welcomed and heard!!
When we approach God in Jesus’ name he will never say ‘Access Denied’.