There is in this verse a four-part statement regarding the qualifications required for a person in need to approach the God of all grace. You say, "But if He's a God of all grace, there should be no qualifications." There is not, because if you even desire to draw near to God He has already begun this work within you. Drawing near to God in our time of need, and receiving His immeasurable grace, is an incredible thing! But even more importantly:
- It is a personal thing—"with a true heart."
A person can have no more of religion, no more holiness, no more love, no more of God, than he has in his own heart. The Kingdom of God consists entirely in the state of the heart. Therefore God can give nothing else and grant nothing less than a true heart. This word true is used by the writer previously in Hebrews 8:2 (the true tabernacle) and Hebrews 9:24 (the true Holy Place). The first tabernacle was only a figure and a shadow of the true. There was, indeed, religious activity and worship, but it had no abiding power; it couldn't make worshippers perfect. The image, the substance and reality, of the heavenly things themselves, were only brought by Christ. God now asks that, to correspond with the true sanctuary, you have a true heart; devoted to Christ yourself. I'm not dependent on my mom and dad, my spouse, the prayers of my grandmother; it's me, O Lord!
- It is a convictional thing—"with full assurance of faith."
Full assurance of faith almost sounds like an oxymoron, doen't it? Faith is usually something hoped. Except for the fact the gospel is "the faith" as in "the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3). Paul says, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (II Timothy 4:7). The full assurance of faith in the heart of every person who approaches the Throne of grace is:
- The assurance that the atonement of Christ is sufficient to remove our guilt; and
- The assurance that we can draw near because there is no qualification we do not possess.
- It is an experiential thing—"having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience."
"For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the [sprinkling of] blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience..." (Hebrews 9:13-14). Just as the Jews had the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on the defiled to be made clean, so too the blood of Jesus Christ is applied (by our High Priest) to the mind and our minds experience a cleansing! "For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things" (I John 3:20).
- It is a confessional thing—"having our bodies washed with pure water."
The allusion is to a custom of the Jews, who were obliged to wash their bodies, and make them clean, when they prayed. Rabbi Ezra in his commentary on Genesis 35:2 says, "Every Hebrew, when he went to pray at a fixed place, was obliged to have his body pure and garments pure. A priest couldn't enter into the court for service, though clean, until he had washed himself all over." John Gill believes this washing represents the Holy Spirit and His influence on and in us who believe. Without doubt this text is also an allusion to Christian baptism, the fulfillment of Hebrew washing. It is a baptism that a confession is made by the believer to others regarding his allegiance to Christ.
When you consider drawing close to God, think of it as a personal, convictional, experiential and confessional thing. This drawing close to God through faith in Christ is "the kingdom of God" in you.