In order to get the full benefit of Christ’s work for us on earth and in heaven—which would include receiving forgiveness of sins and answers to prayer—we must come to faith in His blood, rather we must trust Him and believe in the value of His shed blood for us.
I like what Charles Fuller has said:
You can never benefit from Christ’s work, typified by the Golden Altar, until you accept what He has done for you at the Brazen Altar. You can never have the confidence that Christ intercedes on your behalf, until you have accepted his atoning death for your sins. Remember, to get to the Golden Altar you must first pass by the Brazen Altar where the sacrificial lamb was slain and offered up. So likewise, to know Christ’s constant watch-care over your life, you must first humbly kneel at the foot of the Cross, confess your sins, and trust in Christ and the finished work of paying the penalty for your sins which he accomplished for you there.
Now beyond our salvation and the forgiveness of our sins, one of the huge things that Christ has worked out for us on earth, and is now working out for us in heaven, is our ability through Christ to pray effectively—that is, to pray with the power of God’s Spirit.
This is how Charles Fuller has suggested that we tap into this power of prayer: that we would love Christ and His cross and that we would bring no other fire to the golden altar besides that which is from the brazen altar. For since the aroma of incense was typical of true prayer and rose up to God only by the fiery coals from the brazen altar, in order to pray with God’s power we must love the cross and take hold of it, thanking Christ always for what He has done for us. According to Fuller, “…true prayer can come only from a heart which is inspired by a genuine love for the cross of Christ.”
But what does this mean—to love the cross? How do I love the cross?
Well, first of all, it means that we recognize that no other sacrifice, no other source of fire will satisfy God, and likewise, truly help us, other than that from the cross. As we have seen in the tabernacle, no other source of fire could burn the incense properly—to produce the aroma that would please God—besides the fire from the brazen altar. For only the coals from the sacrifice of His Son were sufficient to atone for sins. And so, if this was God’s attitude, that should be our attitude as well. Loving the cross means, therefore, that we love Jesus and the works that He did for us on the cross, believing strongly in the great value of His blood—to give us salvation and peace and hope and all eternal things, to the exclusion of all earthly things that would be suggested. For loving the cross means that we, with Paul, count all other things loss that we might know Christ.
Secondly, it means that we are not ashamed of the cross (Rom. 1:16), rather, that we boast about it. For as Paul said in Galatians 6:14 (in the Living Bible), “Because of that cross, my interest in all the attractive things of the world was killed long ago, and the world’s interest in me is also long dead.”
Accordingly, as Fuller says, “If your heart is filled with self-love, the love of money, pleasure, and gain, if your heart is filled with the cares of this world, you are not glorying in the cross, and therefore there is no coal from off the Brazen Altar to cause the incense to ascend.”
If this is the case for you, be diligent now to confess your sins. Oh, there is great power produced by confession. Look at what happened to Isaiah when he confessed his sins (Read Isaiah 6:5-8). An angel came and took a burning coal from off of the altar and touched it to his lips, and his sin and guilt were gone—vanished away. Then, as a further result, as Fuller points out,
When the Lord said, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I; send me!” Then God sent Isaiah forth to prophesy to Israel. For forty years he shone as a light in the world, and today, though dead, he yet speaketh. Why? He prayed a prayer [of confession] inspired by a love for the Cross of Christ, and in so doing, he became a burning and shining light for God and Christ in his generation.