“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
When it comes down to it, this is a stunning reality. The fact that we have direct access to the presence and power of God is nearly beyond our ability to comprehend. Because we live in a New Testament age, accustomed to church, prayer and Bible reading, we can easily lose track of how radical this is and how important it is for us to take advantage of it.
In the pagan religious world surrounding the original readers of Hebrews, there were rituals designed to purify individuals who wanted to approach any particular god. Not everyone had easy access. Very few were given the right to make their way into communication with an idol, and often it was an expensive and extensive process to get there. One Roman religion, Mithranism, the worship of a bull-god, even required some worshippers to be drenched in the blood of a slaughtered bull.
This was even reflected in the worship of the Jewish Temple. The inner room, the smallest room in the Temple, was the Holy of Holies. It was considered to be the place where God’s presence dwelt. If you worshiped the God of Abraham, you could get as close as the outermost court. If you were a Jewish male, you could get into the next courtyard. If you were a priest you could get closer. Only one person, the high priest, could get into the Holy of Holies once a year.
But when Jesus died on the cross, Matthew says the curtain that divided the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:50-51). Jesus, through his sinless life, death and resurrection, made direct access to God possible for sinners in need of grace.
It is incredible that the throne of God is described in Hebrews 4:16 as the “throne of grace”. The emblem of God’s omnipotence and sovereignty is described in terms of grace. We go there to find mercy from God and find the grace to help us in our time of need.
When we think of this access, we often think of going to God with our problems seeking His solution, and this is true. But it is more than that. This is access to the grace of God – all the gifts of His power and presence.
This is the grace given to us in salvation. Jesus is our only means of salvation and life with God. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
This is the grace of God at work in our time of need. In prison Paul wrote the Philippians, “…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (4:6-7).
This is the grace God continues to give us for life. We don’t receive one injection of grace at salvation and then “booster shots” when we need something. Grace is God’s constant activity with His people and Christians lean how much they need every day. Paul says in Romans 8:31-32, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
This is like living in the desert but having constant access to water. Why would we not drink?
If all this is available to us, why would we not take advantage of it?
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