Approaching God can be a scary proposition for mere mortals. After all, He is depicted as sitting in the sanctuary above, surrounded by a retinue of billions of angels, twenty-four elders, and four living creatures beyond human imagination. In the book of Daniel, He is seen surrounded by millions of angels as He begins the work of the investigative judgment. Yet approaching God is what sinners and saints must do during this time of the finishing of the investigative judgment.
How can we successfully approach the throne of God so that we will be heard and granted all divinely reasonable requests? To answer this question, our confidence must lie in the Bible. There is no room for guesswork.
Jesus’ desire has always been, since the fall of man, to interact with human beings. He desires for us to be deeply settled in the idea that God is someone to run to and not someone from whom we should run or hide. He is aware that all things that relate to temporal life, holiness, righteousness, and eternal life must be obtained from Him.
This is why God gives a direct call to all those capable of reasoning. He declares, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). To those who have not yet matured in their reasoning abilities, another call comes: “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).
No one decides on a whim to journey closer to Jesus. The opportunity and capability we have to approach God come from God himself. We are utterly helpless to respond appropriately to the call of a wooing Savior. Jesus made this plain in His statement, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44). The Holy Spirit places a desire for something eternal and lasting in the heart of human beings and, through that same agency, the Father draws all hearts that will yield to the magnetic beam of His love.
God Takes the Initiative
Some thoughtful person may ask, “Why doesn’t God come to us? Why does He stand at a distance and call out to moral weaklings whose core value is enmity against God?” The Bible makes it plain that what looks like the first act in the great battle for the human heart is really the second. God calls out to us because He has already taken the initiative to redeem and restore us.
The Apostle John clears this up by saying, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). John plainly reports that God was the one who made the first move in this relationship. He made himself vulnerable so that we could have ample opportunity to respond to divine love.
That vulnerability was expressed in a promise to sacrifice Himself on Calvary—a promise made before earth even existed (see Revelation 13:8). When the time came for Him to make good on His promise, Jesus chose you and me instead of Himself, even though that choice went against His human desires. The Bible clarifies, “But God commendeth [demonstrates or gives proof of] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The cross was a demonstration. There God proved that He is faithful; He keeps His word. There He demonstrated the bottomless pit of love that existed in His heart until the time came for its expression in a visible way. This is why we should not be afraid to approach God.
The Bible’s Method of Approaching God
How shall we approach God? Many people offer varying semi-correct opinions on this point. It seems that the answer is a foregone conclusion and that to dwell on the manner of approaching God is a redundant exercise. However, could it be that we do not have a clear conception of how to approach God with confidence—a conception gained from a study of the Scriptures? Does confidently approaching the throne of God, where He is now engaged in the work of the investigative judgment, mean that we should command God to bless us in the needed way? Some have in practice come to this conclusion.
The Scripture is clear that there are some prerequisites to approaching the throne of God confidently:
- One must approach God’s spiritual “throne of grace” while making Him the primary authority in the life (Luke 14:26, Matthew 10:37).
- One must approach God’s throne with determination to believe Him (James 1:6, 7).
- One must approach God’s throne with a belief in His good nature (Hebrews 11:6).
- One must approach God’s throne with a belief that He rewards those who seek for Him (Hebrews 11:6).
Faith is the key to approaching God’s throne with confidence. Nowhere is faith to approach God’s throne more clearly revealed than in the epistle to the Hebrews. There the biblical writer illuminates how we are to integrate our faith with the right information so that we can approach God’s throne successfully.
The Specifics of Faith
In Hebrews 4, a discussion about the physical and then spiritual rest of God that we are now to enter into ends with this relevant statement: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
In verse 14 we are told to “hold fast our profession” because Jesus is now high priest in the heavenly sanctuary. In the next verse (v. 15) we are told that this high priestly Jesus can understand human weakness because He faced temptation but was not overcome by it. We are approaching a high priest who can relate to our weaknesses and needs. As a result of these things, we are admonished that we can come boldly to the “throne of grace” to obtain mercy in its various forms and also strength for when we need it the most.
The Bible encourages us to come boldly to the “throne of grace,” but the specifics as to what should inspire this boldness are found in the tenth chapter of Hebrews. In verses 19 and 20, we are told that the sacrifice of Jesus ought to give us boldness in approaching the throne because He has made a way for us to reach the throne through that same sacrifice. But it continues:
And having an 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. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;). (Hebrews 10:21-23)
The book of Hebrews reveals that we may know what the Scriptures mean when they encourage us to spiritually enter the holy places of God in the sanctuary above. This is how we can have our spiritual and physical needs satisfied. Hebrews reveals that entering the presence of God with boldness is to enter with “full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). But it also teaches us what should inspire our faith. According to this passage, the fact that we have a relatable high priest (Hebrews 10:21) who officiates and ministers for us in the heavenly sanctuary should inspire faith.
This passage also recommends to our conscience that our faith should be inspired because of Jesus’ sacrifice, which was accomplished on Calvary but promised from the foundation of the world. It is explained in this way: “Let us draw near…, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). Notice that this work of purification and cleansing is spoken of in the past tense. It is a result of the acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus.
The Lion-Hearted Believer
As a result of what Jesus is doing currently in the sanctuary as our relatable high priest and what He has done on the cross, our faith should be firm. We need to contemplate these things before we approach the “throne of grace.” Contemplating these pieces of salvation, history, and prophecy will give us the boldness we need to approach the throne and leave either with our petitions granted or with our wills changed to reflect the will of God.
Faith is what puts us in possession of the righteousness of Jesus, because righteousness comes through faith (Galatians 5:5, Romans 1:16, 17). Those who approach the throne with “full assurance of faith” are accounted righteous in the eyes of heaven. They approach God’s throne not as mangy dogs looking timidly to the king for a morsel of dried, moldy bread. The Bible describes the approach of those clothed in the righteousness of Jesus in this way: “The righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1).
We may be lions at the throne of God if we approach with unwavering faith. We may come with our heads up, our shoulders squared; and we may, with our full confidence in Jesus, ask for what we will and receive it. In both passages in Hebrews, one at the start and the other at the end, we are told to hold on to our “profession of faith.” Let us do so.
 Bible texts are from the King James Version.