Ushered by Faith into the Throne of Grace (Hebrews Sermon 18 of 74)
February 13, 2011 | Andrew Davis
Exaltation of Christ, The Offices of Christ
The Court of the King – Access Needed
So, I can scarcely imagine at this moment, this incredible moment of redemptive history, recorded for us in the biblical book of Esther, Queen Esther standing outside the throne room of her husband King Xerxes, the most powerful man on earth. What it must have been like to be there, to see her? Perhaps her heart rate elevated, short of breath as she's just about to walk into the throne room of this, the most powerful man on earth, her husband, yes. But still the most powerful man on earth, the emperor of Persia, 127 provinces stretching from east to west, sitting on an exalted throne reflective of his great power surrounded by dozens of counselors doing the business of the empire, surrounded by many soldiers who would at any moment been willing to lay down their lives for the Emperor or to take life if he commanded it as well. And the circumstances that had driven Esther to take her very life into her hands are recorded in the pages of that book.
You remember how the king had been duped, had been tricked into issuing an edict amounting to the genocide, the annihilation of the Jewish people. And how Esther had been approached, persuaded to go into the throne room of the king and beg for the lives of her people. But there was a problem and she said in Esther 4:11, "All the kings officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned by the king, the king has but one law: That he be put to death. The only exception to this, is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king." Esther though with incredible boldness, incredible courage was willing to risk her life, and go in and speak to her husband on behalf of her people, to go uninvited into the throne room of the King of Persia. And she said, "If I perish, I perish." A great moment of courage. And so with that boldness, she walked uninvited into the throne room of King Xerxes, the king saw her. And says in Esther 5:2-3 "When he saw a Queen Esther, standing in the court, he was pleased with her. And he held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king asked, 'What is it Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half of my kingdom, it will be given to you.'"
Friends, this amazing story from the Old Testament is a picture of a bold access into a throne room of power, the golden scepter extended to her as a picture of a welcome of grace into that throne room and an invitation that she should make her request known to the king. Amazingly, I find this a picture of what's extended to us in Hebrews 4:16, a picture of the grace that flows like a vast river into our lives from the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with confidence. So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Now, my goal in this sermon is to give you a sense of the immense privilege that Jesus is won for us, pictured by Queen Esther's approach to her husband King Xerxes as he sat on the throne.
Access, however to the throne room of Almighty God, not merely that of a temporary earthly potent-y who would some day die. Access granted continually to that throne room, not just on one particular occasion. Whenever is our time of need. An access that actually comes with a command that we should do so that we should approach. A command to draw near to the throne of God. An access that is paid for and granted to us not merely by the extension of a golden scepter, but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed for us on the cross. I want to unfold therefore Hebrews 4:14-16, because I just want you to pray more. I want you to saturate your lives in prayer, I want you to pray and pray and pray. I want you to pray without ceasing because I'm going to make a case this morning, that there is no such time as a time that's not a time of need. Every moment is a time of need. And so we have this invitation to come right into the throne room of grace.
I. First... A Word About Faith
Now before I do that, I want to speak briefly a word about faith. A word about faith, faith is the eyesight of the soul, that enables us to see invisible spiritual realities. The Word of God is the food of faith. It opens your eyes to this vast spiritual world that we would not see if God didn't grant us the gift of faith. The basic building blocks of this passage can only be perceived by faith, Almighty God, the Holy One seated on His throne, Jesus the Son of God, our great High Priest, ourselves as sinners in need of grace, as children of God, who are welcome in His presence, our enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil, our situation, that naturally we were separated from God because of our sins, with an infinite gap between us and the Holy One, Jesus the Son of God has worked for us, a great salvation on the cross. By faith, now we are children of God, the completely forgiven of our sins, but we are in immense danger. Jesus, our great high priest, has gone through the heavens and is at the right hand of God and is interceding for us. We must hold fast to our confession of faith, we must hold fast and this we cannot do without an ongoing supply of grace.
Every moment as I said a moment ago, is a time of need. We must see our great need, and our great privilege. In order to hold fast, we must draw near to the throne of grace. Now, this is the basic spiritual lay of the land. This is what is true invisibly and spiritually and we cannot perceive it except by faith. So, my desire is to strengthen your faith. I'm not going to urge you to go on a pilgrimage. There's no physical place on Earth, more holy than another. The throne room of grace is an invisible spiritual reality.
And so I'm going to urge you to be strong in faith and believe and step into that throne room of a grace. Now, I want to talk about greatness and I'm going to just lay out this passage with three senses of the greatness of the issues here. I want to talk about Jesus, our great High Priest, I want to talk about the greatness of our need, and I want to talk about the greatness of the privilege that Jesus is one for us. So the word great, is going to appear a lot in this sermon, because these are great issues. These are immense issues.
II. The Greatness of Our High Priest Jesus
So I want to begin by talking about the greatness of our High Priest, Jesus. Now, what do we mean by High Priest? Well a priest is an intermediary between God and man. The first time that a priest is mentioned in the Bible is in Genesis 14:18, "Then Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High." That's the first time the word priest appears in the Bible. Now we're going to get to know Melchizedek very well when we get to Hebrew 7. We're going to talk much about him.
Now, the Book of Hebrews summarizes the calling of a priest plainly in the very next verse, that we're going to study God willing, next week, Hebrews 5:1, "Every priest is selected from among men, and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, and to offer gifts and sacrifices." Now in the Old Covenant Aaron, the brother of Moses, was chosen as the first high priest. And then his sons, his descendants after him, took that office in the Old Covenant. High Priest, represented the people before God and God before the people. Now in Latin the word for priest as "pontifex", which means bridge builder. And I think that gives a good sense of that mediator role of a priest as a go-between, in some way between God and man. For example, Ezekiel the prophet was also a priest and God said to him, in Ezekiel 22:30, "I looked for a man among them who would stand in the gap on behalf of the land, to stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so that I would not have to destroy it, but I found none."
So, a priest is one who is qualified by God to stand in the gap. Now, the gap gives a sense of a breach like a tear in cloth or a breach in the wall. That's what the Hebrew word means, there in Ezekiel 22:30, there is a breach or a gap. Well, between what and what? Well, I think it's pretty clear, between God and man, between a Holy God and sinful human beings, and that gap, that breach is wider than the Grand Canyon, is wider than the gap between us and and the edge of the Milky Way or the edge of the universe. It's an infinite gap because of the infinite holiness of God, and a priest, then stands in the gap between a Holy God and sinful man, and seeks to build a bridge.
How is Jesus a High Priest?
Now how then is Jesus a High Priest? Friends, we're not going to plumb the depths of that this morning. We have actually six chapters to study that theme. Hebrews 5-10, just meditates on and on about the greatness of Jesus's ministry as High Priest. So I don't need to go into any great detail, but very soon we're going to be looking at these profound concepts from Psalm 110 in Verse 4, "The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind. You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek." Simply put, then Jesus is a High Priest because He represents us sinners to God by offering His blood, as a perfect sacrifice, and praying for us based on that blood and He represents God to us sinners by displaying the perfect image of God.
And by teaching us the very words of God, Jesus is the Great High Priest. Now, what is the greatness of Jesus as our High Priest? Well, we've already seen in many respects, the greatness of Jesus Christ, right from the very beginning of the book, Jesus is greater than all the prophets in the past, God spoke through all the prophets. But in these last days, He's spoken to us by His son Jesus is God's final Word to the human race, Jesus is greater than all the prophets. In that same chapter, and then on into chapter 2, we saw that Jesus is greater than all the angels. They are merely servants, they are merely winds and flames of fire. But Jesus is the Son of God. And then again in Hebrews 3, Jesus is greater than Moses. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, but Jesus is faithful as a Son over God's house. And so Jesus is greater than Moses. And we saw that Jesus in Hebrews 4 is greater than Joshua in that, the promised land He brings us to, is a greater promised land. The rest of God, that perfect final Sabbath rest, is heaven, it's eternal not a temporary lodging in an earthly Promised Land, but rather the eternal lodging in heaven, and so Jesus is greater than Joshua. And now from Hebrews 5 through 7, we're going to be comparing Jesus to Aron and we're going to find that Jesus is a greater high priest than Aaron. The greatness of Jesus as our High Priest.
Why is Jesus Such a Great High Priest?
Well, why is He great? Why is Jesus greater?
1) Great in His Person
Well, first and foremost Jesus is greater because of his person-hood. Just who He is even before He became our High Priest. In Hebrews 4:14, it says, "We have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God." Jesus is a great high priest because He is great in and of Himself. Now, there are some times men who fill great offices, but they're not great men. Significant offices, great offices of leadership worthy of great honor because God ordains that office, but they're not great men. And we see this again and again in the Bible, kings are to be held in honor, because they're kings with their wicked people. But Jesus is great in and of Himself. He is the Son of God, or God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. And it says in Hebrews 1:3, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Jesus is our great high priest, because he's the Son of God, because of the greatness that He has in and of Himself.
And since Jesus is the Son of God, He has a special in with His Father, the judge of all the earth. The Father loves the Son. He delights in the Son. Think about the Mount of Transfiguration, and Jesus is up there with Peter and James, and John, and His face and His clothes, and His whole being is transformed before them and He becomes radiant, bright shining with light. His heavenly glory, for a brief moment, partially restored to Him. And then a bright cloud envelops them all there on that mountain. And a voice from the cloud says, "This is My Son whom I love, with Him I am well pleased." Aren't you glad Jesus is your Great High Priest? Aren't you glad that that's the love that the Father has for our Intercessor? He is great, because He is the Son of God.
2) Great in His Journey
Also in the text, He is great because of the journey He traveled, because of the journey He travelled. Look at verse 14, again, "Therefore since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus, the son of God." It's an incredible thing. In the old covenant, the ironic priest took the blood of the animal from the sacrifices that were done in the holy place and carried them and brought them into the most holy place, or the Holy of Holies. But I tell you that Jesus went on an infinitely greater journey to bring His blood before Almighty God. It says he passed through, or moved through, or went through the heavens themselves. He went right through the heavens to the other side. Well this bends even breaks my mind. This is where your circuit breakers start to trip. Jesus has gone through the heavens. Friends, the heavens are a created realm. In the beginning, God created them. But our God is infinitely above any created realm, and so the Scripture repeatedly presents God as above the heavens. So it says in Psalm 8, and verse 1, "Oh Lord, our Lord, How majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens." Or again, in Psalm 57:5, "Be exalted, Oh God above the heavens, let Your glory be over all the Earth." So Jesus goes through all created realms visible and invisible to a place that only He as God could go. The place where the Creator where Almighty God is and there He presents His blood. So, Jesus is great because of this infinite journey, he has traveled. And so Hebrews picks up on this, again, in Chapter 7:26, "Such a High Priest meets our needs, one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens." There our great High priest, exists with His Heavenly Father. And He has offered his own blood for us right before the throne of Almighty God.
3) Great in His Sympathy Toward Us as Sinners
Thirdly, Jesus is great in his sympathy toward us as sinners. He is a great High Priest because He's great in sympathy. Look at verse 15, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with us in our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin." This is one of the most incredible themes in this passage may be in the whole Bible. Jesus the perfectly holy one is perfectly sympathetic to us as sinners. He sympathize with us, even us sinners. The Greek word is literally sympatheia, from which we get the English word. It means to feel with, to link my feelings, my passions with someone else, very related to the word compassion. They're completely related. And so the idea of sympathy or compassion is a union of one person's heart with another. We're supposed to do that when we rejoice with those who rejoice in one with those who mourn. We have genuine compassion for each other.
Jesus has a genuine compassion to Himself, in Himself, with us sinners. And specifically with people who feel that they are sinners that they need His ministry as a great High Priest. And what's interesting, how Jesus here uses a double negative, as if to strengthen the assurance in our minds. We ought to be strongly motivated to come to Jesus as our Great High Priest, because listen, we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize. The word unable shows a limitation on Jesus, a limitation, that would be on Jesus's character.
It would be a limitation on him as a high priest. But He doesn't suffer from this limitation. Like, when some people thinking they're being humble, say that God is too busy, spinning the planets, to look after my little needs. They don't realize, by this false humility they're really limiting God. We serve a God who is unable to both spin the planets and look after your little needs, so therefore, we'll let him spin the planets and you look after your own little needs. No friends. We serve a God who can do both, he can spin the planets and He can look after your little needs. And so, it's a dishonor to God to say that kind of thing.
So it would be a dishonor to Jesus to say, he's unable to sympathize with you. That he doesn't know what it feels like to go through what you're going through. It's a dishonor. And so the author uses this double negative to jar yourself out of thinking that you have a high priest who doesn't know what it feels like what you're going through right now. Jesus is actually infinitely great in his sympathies toward us as sinners, he is moved deeply with compassion toward us, as we struggle with the effects of our own sins, and those of others to us. Deeply sympathetic.
Jesus watches us struggle with temptations linked to our flesh and as He does that, He knows exactly what it's like to be tempted. He is mild and gentle, and faithful as a loving priest who will welcome us warmly into the throne room of grace. He's not standing like a guard at the door saying, you're not getting in here. But he is warmly welcoming you into this throne room of grace. He is moved with compassion for us. As Xerxes was moved with love for his wife, Esther, as she stood there in her beautiful queenly robes. And he loved her, and he extended his golden scepter to her, just right from his heart, flowed right through him and he loved her. But his love for Esther is just nothing compared to the love that Jesus has for his bride, the church. He loves his church and he's moved with love for her and extends a warm welcome to her, to come any time.
4) Great in His Temptations
And why is He so moved with compassion because Jesus is fourthly, great in his temptations. He is great, he was great, in his temptations in his time on earth, Hebrews 4:14, "for we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin." Jesus 's compassion for us and our temptations and trials is certainly linked to his incarnation. He took on flesh and blood so that he could sympathize, so that he could experience those same things that we do. He shared our flesh and blood. He lived a life in the flesh, he felt its pulls, its desires, its weaknesses, its afflictions. He knows by experience what it is to be hungry. He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights and was tempted in the desert.
He knows by experience what it is to be poor, he said, "The Son of Man has no place to lay his head." Women were supporting him out of their means, He and his disciples are walking through the grain fields on the Sabbath, plucking them and eating them like all the other poor people. Jesus knows what it's like to be poor, he knows by experience what it's like to be weary to the bone. Fell asleep in the back of a boat on a cushion in the middle of this storm and had to be awakened. He was exhausted. He knows by experience what it's like to be rejected by people who ought to love Him, but instead hate him. Who twist up their faces in anger, he had to look at that for three years. And He saw the hatred in them, and He knew that they wanted to kill him. He knows by experience what it's like to be hated and rejected and despised, and He knows what it's like to feel physical pain, and death. He's been through all these experiences. He knows what that's like. He's been tempted in every way. Just as we are.
Now here friends I tell you, we come to infinite mystery, and this is a mystery to me, and it ought to be a mystery to you too. Meditate on this with me. Our temptations are not merely linked to our bodily nature, our physical drives, but also linked to our sin nature which we inherited from Adam. We were born sinners in Adam with a tendency to rebel against God and then we rebelled against God and in so doing, we built up habits of sin. That form a strong pull on us, and make it very difficult for us to live upright, lives.
We develop addictive habits of sin, of lusts and jealousies and pride and overeating and other things, addictive habits, just by transgression. And so James describes our temptations in this way, in James 1:14-15. "Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed, to then after desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin when it is full grown, gives birth to death." Friends, these words cannot be ascribed to Jesus. He had nothing inside Him dragging him away from the Father. He had no habits of sin that he had to battle all of his life. How then can we say that Jesus's temptations were real temptations. How were they not like the pull of a magnet on a block of wood and that there was nothing inside Jesus, responding to the temptation.
My answer to you is, I have no idea. It's good for a theologian and a pastor, to know his limitations. I have no idea, I just know the text says that He was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin. I know that. I know He had no habits of sin to battle against but I think it was a real battle, he was fighting in Gethsemane, when he was deciding what to do. Isn't the evidence there that that was a battle for him, to obey his father? It was real temptation. And so the bottom line is, Jesus is a great high priest for us because he is so compassionate on us in our weakness and our temptations and because he's experienced it all himself, no not every single temptation there's some temptations that He never has to go through. He never has to tell a second lie to cover the first lie.
But I think what the author means here is he understands all the categories of struggles, we have in our lives, because he went through them too. But in all of Jesus ' temptation, I hope you notice there's a key difference as well. He was tempted in every way, just as we are, but there's a big difference. He never sinned, He never gave in, not once.
5) Great in His Holiness
And therefore He is great in his holiness. We have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin, Jesus never sinned. It's just, it boggles my mind to consider 30 plus years of life in this earth. Tempted every day and never once sinned in any way. And this makes him a perfect high priest for us. It qualifies him to be our high priest because he was perfectly holy in every way. And therefore He was acceptable to God.
And if you go back in your mind to Hebrew 7:26, again, such a high priest meets our need, one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners exalted above the heavens. Jesus, I contend, I've said this in this pulpit before, and I say it again now, is the most tempted man in history. More tempted than any of you have ever been. You know why, because he ran all of his temptations into the ground. Jesus and his temptation without a foot raised, Jesus won. Temptation drops in exhaustion, Jesus is still strong. He wrestled all of his temptations to the ground and stood in triumph over every one of them, he felt every temptation to the maximum level, and defeated everyone. We sinners, cave in at some point. And you know it's true.
Take for example a man with a temper. He's got a problem with anger, gets up resolves in the Lord that he's not going to get angry once that day. Says it out loud and Satan says, "Okay, now we know what we're working on today." Okay? And so he goes to breakfast, and his wife may say something that he doesn't like, but he's not going to get angry today, so yeah, but there's a little heat that's rising. Some memories. You know what I'm saying? Some things, but nothing comes out. Kids may do something etcetera. This is not autobiographical. I hope you know that. You understand that.
I'm not speaking auto-biographical, but these experiences happen. He goes to work, his boss criticizes him at a conference in front of other people, and he's embarrassed by that and tempted to do a lash back but he doesn't, for good reason. And on his way home, there's some incidents with another driver who's in a bit more of a rush than him, and who honks at him and makes a gesture and is, but I'm not going to get angry today. Yeah, but he's close, isn't he? I mean, he's like ripe fruit, ready to drop. And so he comes home and I don't know what it is, but there is that straw that breaks the camel's back, you know what I'm talking about? And so the camel's back breaks, and he lashes out. He congratulates himself, that he made it that far in the day. Friends, look, he cut out at 62% of the temptation, he didn't feel the whole thing, there were still more Satan could have done. There was more things that could have come, he just cut out he kicked out. Pushed the red eject button, the canopy went and he went out of the flaming jet.
He's out, he's done Jesus never did it. He felt every single temptation right to the end, 100%. 30 plus years he took on those temptations one at a time, like Samson with the jawbone of a donkey until all of those Philistines were laying dead at his feet. That's Jesus our perfect High Priest and therefore He is qualified to be our high priest. See then dear friends, the greatness of our high priest, great in his person as the son of God. Great in his journey through the heavens to the right-hand of God. Great in his sympathy toward us as sinners, great in his experience of temptation and great in his personal holiness. We have a great high priest. But we are also great in our need.
III. The Greatness of Our Need
Look at the greatness of our need, and look at verse 16, it says, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Verse 16 speaks very clearly of us as needy people. It uses the word help so that we can find help. We can find grace, to help. The Word which we could say assistance to gain assistance implies we can't make it on our own. The Greek word was a nautical term it's used during the shipwreck of Paul's ship in Acts 27, of the cables that are passed under the hull of the ship to keep it from falling apart. And so the idea is that the hull is going to fall apart if it doesn't receive the help of these cables and so it is with us, we need help, Amen. We need help. We're going to fall apart if we don't have help, we can't make it on our own.
What cursed independence, we have. And how we express that in prayerlessness. We don't need to pray because we're fine on our own. Really, we need help. We are greatly in need of help, And it says to receive help in time of need, the image, there is of timely help, help that comes just when you need it. Like Calvary, over the hill. And the horses come just at that moment. And the text also speaks of our weakness in verse 15, "We do not have a high priest who was unable to sympathize with our weaknesses." These weaknesses are moral infirmities. We are feeble as we battle temptation. We're not strong, we're not Samson's, we're like little children we're weak and sick as we try to battle. The whole context, I think, of Hebrews 4:14-16 is one of the temptation. These Jewish professors of faith in Christ, were being tempted to turn their back on Jesus because of these external temptations and they were, they were dropping like flies. And so the author is saying, don't drop run to Jesus when you're being tempted.
Don't fight on your own, it's too strong for you. You need help, you're weak. And why is that? Well, we've got an infinite journey ahead of us. We'd speak often of the two infinite journeys. One of those two infinite journeys is that internal journey of personal holiness. We were predestined to be conformed to Jesus, to be just like Jesus in Hebrews... Sorry, in Matthew 5:48. It says, "Be perfect therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect." We're called then to be perfect like God. Hebrews 12:1 says that we are to throw off everything that hinders in the sin that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Christian life then is portrayed not only as a long distance race, but also as a battle like a warfare that we have to fight and these two images come together in 2nd Timothy 4:7, when Paul says, "I fought the good fight, I finished the race."
It's a fighting race. And we have these enemies, the world, the flesh, and the devil that are just assaulting us all the time and get the image of World War One and no man's land. You can imagine just barbed wire on the left and barbed wire on the right. The Germans and the allies and there's just... It's like... It's looks like a moon scape nothing living and just artillery fire and all kinds of grenades and machine gun-ness, and you have to run 10 miles along no man's land to make it to the other side. Think, well, that's an overstatement. No, it isn't. Spiritually, that's what you're trying to do here. Every day, lusts and Satan, with his demons, assault us and try to pull us from Jesus every day. If you didn't have great assistance, you would have fallen long time ago. Now, I say to you some of that assistance comes whether you pray for it or not, but this text is telling you to pray for it.
To get the help you need as you run this perilous, race. It says, we need mercy, and grace for our time of need. Mercy and grace are almost, in some cases, interchangeable terms hard to distinguish between the two. Some theologians say that mercy is God's goodness to us in times of suffering, when we're hurting. Somebody blind by the road and says, "Have mercy on me son, of David." He's suffering, he's in pain, he's struggling. And then grace is just going right for your sins, the thing that makes you defile before God, it covers your past sins. It helps you not sin in the future, mercy and grace. And that's what you need in this time of need. Our needs are great.
IV. The Greatness of Our Privilege: Full Access to the Throne of Grace
Thirdly, look at the greatness of our privilege. We have a great high priest and we are greatly needy. Look at the greatness of our privilege. Full access to the throne of grace. We needy sinners, needy sinners. Who are we? We are great sinners friends, one Puritan said our sins are as many as they are great and there are as great as they are many.
Our sins are great, like the mountains, not like little ant hills, they're great because God is infinitely Holy. And our sins are many, they're not occasional. King David said, there are as many as the hairs on my head. And so how can it be that sinners like us would actually be welcomed into the throne of grace, how could it be? But look what it says in verse 16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace." Now, when you think of a throne, don't you think of a place of sovereign power, where a king is seated. He's seated on his throne. And ordinarily for us as sinners, it would be a place of sheer terror. Think of a throne of righteousness where God Almighty, God displays His righteousness, the throne of righteousness.
Or think of a throne of justice where God dispenses his justice against those who have violated his transgressions in his laws. Or think of a throne of omnipotence. Where God can do anything He chooses to do and nothing can thwart him and nothing can stop his mighty hand. But for us as sinners these are terrifying concepts. Absolutely terrifying the throne of God. But see the value of what Jesus has done for us. He has transformed it, and made it a throne of Grace. And I'm not going to say it's not a throne of justice, it's not a throne of righteousness, it's not a throne of omnipotence. No, it's a throne of grace. I'm not going to say that, that wouldn't be true. But now God's justice is helping you get saved, God's righteousness is on your side. It is just and righteous for God to forgive you your sins in Jesus. His powers unleashed to get you to Heaven. It's a throne of grace. And all of God's attributes are working together to bring you to your final end in the new Heaven and in the new earth.
Friends, the Old Covenant was all about restrictions. We weren't welcome, we were left on the outside. If you weren't a Levite you couldn't come into the holy place. If you weren't a high priest, son of Aaron you couldn't come into the most holy place, or else you would die. But the new covenant is all about access. Amen. It's about a doorway. Jesus is the door of the sheep. It says, in Ephesians 2:18, "For through Him, we [both Jew and Gentile] have access to the Father by one spirit." In Hebrews 10, it says, "Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, open for us through the curtain, that is His body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our heart sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience, and having our bodies washed with pure water."
Do you not see the great privilege we have here? We have a great privilege, we are invited right into the throne room of Almighty God. God is opening wide the door to his presence and not only that, He is commanding you, a believer in Jesus, He's commanding you to come in. Now, I said in a sermon, years ago, I don't really know the difference between God's commands and His invitations, and His invitations and His commands. Well, command is something. Well, kind of negative and invitation is like to a party. So that's something positive. Friends, are any of God's commands burden, some are negative? No, they're all wonderful. And you are commanded to come to the throne of grace. Or if you like better, you're invited to come to the throne of grace, but you need to come.
V. Application #1: Let Us Hold Fast to Our Faith
Application number one. Therefore, let us hold fast to our confession of faith. And I want to just start by saying, "Have you made a confession of faith?" I mean you're here today, it's Sunday morning, you're in church, maybe because you're invited or you think you should be in church or something like that, but have you made a profession of faith in Christ? Have you testified that Jesus is your savior? Have you cried out to Jesus to save you from your sins? Have you asked that his blood shed on the cross would be a cleansing river for you? Have you made a profession of faith? The goal of Hebrews is not only that you would make some initial profession of faith in Christ, but you would hold fast to your profession of faith. That you would hold it just as firmly now as the day that you with tears trusted in Jesus and asked Him to be your savior.
Hold on to it fast and in order for you to hold fast to your confession, you need to come regularly to the throne of grace. You need to come again and again, you need rivers of grace, you know that throne, that throne of justice and righteousness, and holiness, and power? Do you know that throne in Revelation 22:1, is the source of the river of life flowing clear as crystal from the lamb, from the throne of God, of the lamb? That throne has become for you a river of grace. Stand in that river and let it cleanse you. Come near to the throne of grace. Let us draw near to get help in time of need.
VI. Application #2: Let Us Draw Near to Get Help
Now I already said at the beginning and now here I say at the end, there are all times of need. There's never a moment which you can say Jesus I got this one, I got it. You can go help somebody who's more needy. I'm doing just fine. Friends you're really in need, then. That's when you're neediest, when you don't think you need Jesus. We need him at every moment, we need him every hour.
You need them in the morning when you first get up. That's a time of need, when you first get up in the morning, you get down on your knees and you anticipate your day, you think about what's coming. Maybe you're going to school, you've got a test or you going to have... You're meeting with some other students for a project, maybe you're working at a company, maybe you're raising your kids, you're a mom that's raising her kids, maybe... You know, who knows the situation, but you know what your day holds, you don't know for sure, but you have an idea. Bring those things before God in prayer, say, "God I need your help today. Satan's planning some things. I don't know where he's coming from, I know this, he wants me to sin. So I ask You for grace and mercy to help me in this time of need."
Times of temptation are a time of need. I think that's the home base of these three verses. When you're tempted, go. Now for the longest time in my Christian life, I would use these after I've sinned. We'll get to that in a moment, but like a mop and a bucket, you know, to come clean it up. And it is that, friends. But better not to sin, Amen. And so, times of temptation are times of need, when you're being tempted go to the throne of grace, say Jesus I'm being tempted right now, I'm being tempted. This same old lust has hold of my mind, in my imagination and I don't want to sin but I know that I will unless you help me. Will you please help me? This temptation to slander or gossip has come over me, I want to lay this person low but I ought not to do it, it's a bad habit. Help me. The individual earlier, in my sermon, he's struggling with anger. He's going and he is saying, "I just want to... " He needs to bring it and just douse it in the ocean of grace, so he's not heated anymore. Times of temptation are times of need.
And so are times of sin. We all sin, we all stumble in many ways. When you have violated your conscience, when you have done what is shameful, when you have experimented again with those things of which you are ashamed. And you think through insanity, it's going to have a different outcome this time than it did the last. And you have been duped, you have been tricked and you have sinned. You need to come to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need. What is the time of need? Well, that you'll add a second sin on to the first one and a third on to the second and develop a new habit of wickedness that will be even harder to break later. Nip it in the bag. You sinned, go admit it, confess it, and He is faithful and just and He will forgive you, your wickedness, and He'll cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Bring it to the throne of grace in times of sin. Times of trial are times of need, God is marshaling trials at you. He's bringing them to you to train you and prepare you and build up your faith. You may be going through an economic trial, you may be unemployed, you may be struggling financially, having trouble making ends meet. It's a trial, the Lord has brought it on you.
Bring it to him, he's the one that brought it to you bring it back to him and say, "Lord I need grace to not curse your name or to question your love for me in the trial, I want to stand up and rejoice in this trial." It could be physical, it could be a health problem, a very serious diagnosis of cancer or diabetes or heart disease, for yourself or a loved one. It's a trial. Bring it to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in your time of need, to stand under the trial and to not give in to the temptation to question God or murmur, or to lose your faith.
Times of prosperity are times of need. You may not think they are and that's your danger. When you're doing well, you get the promotion, you get accepted to grad school, you get a raise, something good happens it's a time of need. You know what you ought to do, you got to recognize every blessing that ever comes to me comes from... Well, it comes from the throne of grace. I might as well bring it back to the throne of grace and say, thank you Jesus. What do you want me to do now with this blessing? I've got some extra money. How do you want me to invest it in your kingdom? I've got a little bit easing of my circumstances here, I'm healthier now. How do you want... I'm healed. How do you want me to use my strength now for you?"
You're bringing it back to the throne of grace, lest you forget that God gave you the blessing, lest you forget to be compassionate to other people who aren't blessed like you, lest you forget to use every blessing for His kingdom and for His glory, lest you forget to thank him simply thank him for the good things he's given you. Times of weariness are times of need. Weary, tired, fatigued, burdened, just bring it to Jesus, say, "Renew my strength, dear Lord." And finally ordinary, boring everyday life-ness, are times of need. I don't know how to call it, just regular life. That makes up 85% of your life, and if it's only these other times then what, you got it on your own these other times? No, when you're sitting behind the wheel and you're about to put it in drive, pray.
It's a time of need and he may tell you, you don't need to put it in drive you should put it in reverse. You'll hit that car if you put in drive, that happened to me. I prayed and I put it in drive and the Lord, showed me, you need to be in reverse, right now. What it is, is we think we got it. We don't need any help. When you're making that same meal you've made a hundred times ask Jesus for help. When you're about to sit down and eat that meal, thank him and bring it to him, and say, "Thank you Lord for this food. Help me to eat it to your glory." There is no time, that is not a time of need. Close with me in prayer.
Father, we thank you for your mercy, we thank you for your grace, we thank you for the river of life flowing clear as crystal from the throne of grace. And we're drinking from it now, oh Lord, I pray, teach me, teach all of us to pray more than we do. Teach us to pray throughout the day, pray in quiet times, pray while driving, pray right before meeting with somebody, pray in the middle of conversations quietly in our minds, pray when we're tempted, pray when we've sinned. God teach us to pray consistently, not just for ourselves, but for others as we go through this difficult journey, this battle, some quarrelsome way as we're trying to make it to heaven Lord, just help us we pray. Thank you for Jesus, thank you for His death on the cross. In his name we pray, Amen.