Before the entrance of sin on our planet, the first couple enjoyed an open and joyful relationship with the Godhead. Even on the same day Adam and Eve sinned, “they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” ().
After the disobedience of our first parents, the direct communication between man and God was stopped. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden and were forbidden to return to that beautiful environment.
However, our gracious, merciful and loving God maintained communication with them through other means. We are told that after man’s rebellion, they repented and started worshipping the Lord at the gate of Paradise.
“Fallen man, because of his guilt, could no longer come directly before God with his supplications: for his transgression of the divine law had placed an impassable barrier between the holy God and the transgressor. But a plan was devised that the sentence of death should rest upon a substitute.” Redemption, p. 19.
Through Christ, humanity can again be connected with Heaven.
In his interview with Nathanael, Christ told him: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of God.”.
“The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth. … And it is through Christ, by the ministration of His heavenly messengers, that every blessing comes from God to us. In taking upon Himself humanity, our Saviour unites His interests with those of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam, while through His divinity He grasps the throne of God. And thus, Christ is the medium of communication of men with God, and of God with men.” The Desire of Ages, p. 143.
Through the plan of salvation, having Christ as our Mediator, God has placed before us several means of grace we should use to have regular communication with Heaven.
The study of God’s Word and prayer are the main resources we need to use to talk with God. When we study the Bible with prayer, God is talking to us and we are talking to God. And we can maintain this communication everywhere and always. Through the mediatorial work of Christ, Who is interceding in our behalf, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, Who works in our mind and heart, the way is fully open for us to reach the throne of grace.
As individuals as well as a family and church, we have the privilege of reaching the Most High God through our continual communion.
We have the following means of grace to maintain our communication with Heaven:
- Studying God’s Word preceded and followed by prayer.
- The Family Altar—morning and evening worship.
- Studying the Sabbath Bible Lessons.
- Regularly attending church as much as possible.
- Partaking of the Communion Service.
- Participating in missionary endeavors.
- Taking up responsibilities within the church.
Connection with God is vital
In John 15, on His way to Gethsemane, Christ saw a flourishing grapevine that He used as a symbol of our relationship with Him. This connection is so vital that it decides our eternal destiny. If we live in close relationship with God, we have everything we need for our present and our future well being. Jesus says that if the vine doesn’t produce fruits, it will be burned. But He emphasizes the essentiality of this relationship because the fruits are the result of it.
“The Saviour does not bid the disciples to bear fruit. He tells them to abide in Him. ‘If ye abide in Me,’ He says, ‘and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’ It is through the word that Christ abides in His followers. This is the same vital union that is represented by eating His flesh and drinking His blood. The words of Christ are spirit and life. Receiving them, you receive the life of the Vine. You live ‘by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ Matt.. The life of Christ in you produces the same fruits as in Him. Living in Christ, adhering to Christ, supported by Christ, drawing nourishment from Christ, you bear fruit after the similitude of Christ.” The Desire of Ages, p. 677.
As we study carefully John 15, we find the word “abide” at least nine times (fromto 10). Why is this important word repeated so many times? Because it is essential for our salvation. Connection with Christ is life. Separation from Christ is death.
“The life of the vine will be manifest in fragrant fruit on the branches. ‘He that abideth in Me,’ said Jesus, “and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing.
“My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away.” While the graft is outwardly united with the vine, there may be no vital connection. Then there will be no growth or fruitfulness. So, there may be an apparent connection with Christ without a real union with Him by faith. A profession of religion places men in the church, but the character and conduct show whether they are in connection with Christ. If they bear no fruit, they are false branches. Their separation from Christ involves a ruin as complete as that represented by the dead branch. ‘If a man abide not in Me,’ said Christ, ‘he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.’” The Desire of Ages, pp. 675, 676.
A New Year Before Us
Individuals and companies typically evaluate their performance during the past year in order to plan ahead for the following year. This way they can avoid similar mistakes in the future, as well as to see where they were successful and to continue on the right track.
How about our spiritual performance during the past year? Did we take advantage of the means of grace available? In which areas did we fail, and in which did we progress?
As we enter the new year, God is giving us another opportunity to avoid mistakes and to continue our journey to our heavenly home.
The inspired words of Paul are very appropriate for this occasion:
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus..
“Christ presents before us the highest perfection of Christian character, which throughout our lifetime we should aim to reach....
“How can we reach the perfection specified by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—our Great Teacher? Can we meet His requirement and attain to so lofty a standard? We can, else Christ would not have enjoined us to do so...
“Our Saviour does not require impossibilities of any soul. He expects nothing of His disciples that He is not willing to give them grace and strength to perform. He would not call upon them to be perfect if He had not at His command every perfection of grace to bestow on the ones upon whom He would confer so high and holy a privilege. He has assured us that He is more willing to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him than parents are to give good gifts to their children.
“Our work is to strive to attain in our sphere of action the perfection that Christ in His life on the earth attained in every phase of character. He is our example. In all things we are to strive to honor God in character.” That I May Know Him, p. 130.
Let us take advantage of this new God-given opportunity to renew our relationship with the Lord. Have a blessed new year!