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Comment-Triple action

July 2005

The words ‘triple action’ signify strength and efficiency. We used to load our dishwasher with detergent, salt and rinse-aid, but now a ‘triple action’ tablet takes care of everything. On a more serious note, the MMR triple vaccine has been much promoted lately as something needful for the health of the nation.

‘Triple action’ is also important for health on a spiritual plane. The principle is spelled out in Hebrews, where a threefold charge is laid, gently but firmly, on all believers – draw near to God; hold fast your profession; and consider one another (10:22-25). Here we explore the first of these -injunctions.

First, however, notice that this threefold responsibility arises from a threefold privilege. The preceding verses (10:19-21) explain that we have (1) boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus; (2) a ‘new and living way’ into the very presence of God; and (3) ‘a high priest over the house of God’.

It is these glorious possessions – which, of course, are ours in Christ – that give rise to related responsibilities.

Drawing near

Firstly, we must draw near to 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’ (v. 22).

Communion with God is both a privilege and a duty. Look at it this way. Suppose a wealthy relative invites you to visit him to receive a valuable gift. He also sends you a new suit of clothes (lest you felt ashamed of your own) and a chauffeur-driven limousine to collect you. You would hardly decline!

Why, then, do we ignore the invitation of Almighty God to ‘draw near’ to him? Can’t we understand what great expense Christ suffered that we might approach with confidence? Can’t we see the special ‘way’ God has provided into his presence? Don’t we realise that the whole purpose of Christ’s high priesthood is that we might ‘come to God through him’?

Then let us come! Let us seek his face frequently in private prayer and public devotion.

Coming boldly

But how should we come? With boldness, in full assurance of faith, reply the Scriptures – and that on several grounds.

Firstly, we have a sympathetic High Priest who bids us ‘come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’ (4:16).

Secondly, we may come boldly because we have consciences washed clean from darkness, fear and guilt. Trusting Christ, we have our ‘hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience’. Under the old covenant, sprinkling signified cleansing. ‘How much more’, asks Hebrews, ‘shall the blood of Christ … purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’ (9:14).

Thirdly, we come boldly because we have ‘bodies washed with pure water’. This is another picture borrowed from the Mosaic covenant. Before the priests could enter the presence of God they had to wash and change their clothes.

So we – ‘dressed’ in the imputed righteousness of Christ and cleansed from the defilement of sins ‘done in the body’ – are fitted to enter the presence of the one who inhabits eternity and whose name is holy (Isaiah 57:15). What, then, hinders us from doing so?

Knowing God

Perhaps we fear being entangled in harmful mysticism (see page 13) or react against charismatic excesses. Is it not safer to keep our faith cerebral and avoid emotional involvement?

But a real relationship with God involves our whole being – mind, emotions and will. There must be a place for -experiencing the proximity of God, for what else is meant by such terms as ‘drawing near’ and ‘knowing God’?

But the fundamental reason for our failure to draw near to God is our low level of expectation as we approach him in prayer, meditation or worship. For, says Hebrews, ‘he who comes to God must believe not only that he exists but also that he rewards those who diligently seek him’ (paraphrase of 11:6).

Let us, then, take advantage of a cleansed conscience and a sanctified soul to commune often with our God – to our own great reward.

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