"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)
This lesson explains the meaning of Hebrews 4:16.
Consider. In what area of your life do you need God's mercy and grace to help you with temptation, weakness, or a "storm" that you are going through?
The scripture references below are from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless noted otherwise (Ref. 1).
1. Come boldly to the throne of grace
a. Come boldly
In the first part of Hebrews 4:16, the author of states, "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace." "Come" means draw near or approach (Ref. 2). "Boldly" means with confidence (Ref. 3). The "therefore" at the beginning of the verse points to two reasons why we can draw near with confidence to God:
(1). Jesus, as our high priest, has opened the way for us to God's presence in heaven (Hebrews 4:14, 9:24, 10:19 NLT). Recall that when Jesus died, the veil of the temple separating people from God was torn in two (Mark 15:37-38).
(2). Jesus, more so than any other, understands our weaknesses and temptations. Jesus, was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Because Jesus Christ has paid with his life the atonement for our sins once and for all time, we can come to God boldly, with confidence (Hebrews 9:11-12 NASB). We come not trusting in our ourselves but in the merits of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
b. To the throne of grace
Let us rejoice that there "is" a throne of grace and not of "justice" only (Ref. 4). The Greek word for "throne" literally means a (king's) seat, and metaphorically refers to God in heaven (Ref. 5). "Grace" is God's favor towards us. God freely gives us his grace because God is inclined to bless us (Ref. 6).
Because Jesus now is at the right hand of God's throne, the throne of God has become the throne of grace (Hebrews 8:1, 12:2). From generation to generation, from every land, and in every language, God may be approached. In all times of our weaknesses and temptation, we may be assured that he is on that throne (Ref. 4). At any time, 24/7, we may approach God with confidence to receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
2. Receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need
At God's throne of grace, we receive mercy (Hebrews 4:16 ESV). Mercy is God's compassion towards us in our sin-full and hurt-full condition (Ref. 7). In the same way that Jesus had compassion on and touched and healed the leper and forgave the paralytic, God reaches out in mercy and compassion and touches us where we hurt and need healing and forgiveness (Mark 1:40-42, 2:1-5). By God's mercy he offers us salvation in Christ (Titus 3:4-5 ESV). By God's love and mercy, even when we were dead in our trespasses, God "made us alive together with Christ" (Ephesians 2:4-5).
At God's throne of grace, we find grace. Grace is God's favor towards us (Ref. 6). Grace is a blessing and a free gift. Grace is totally undeserved. By God's grace, Jesus forgave the men who nailed him to the cross (Luke 23:33-34). By God's grace, the Apostle Paul found the sufficiency of God's power to help him in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). By God's grace, even though we are saved already through faith in Christ, God helps us when we are going through a tough time such as a loss, temptation, persecution, or poor health. By God's grace, God has given us the gifts of salvation and eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 6:23).
At God's throne of grace, we receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). The Greek word translated as "help" [boétheia] in this verse occurs only twice in the New Testament -- in Hebrews 4:16 and Acts 27:17 (KJV) -- and has a nautical meaning (Ref. 8).
Recall that in Acts 27:14-17 the Apostle Paul was traveling to Rome on a ship that was caught in a severe storm. The sailors were losing control of the ship and feared running aground. In Acts 27:17 (read in KJV) the sailors wrapped supporting ropes or cables called "helps" [boétheia] around the wooden hull of their ship from stem to stern to hold the planks of the ship tightly together during the storm (Ref. 8, Ref.9).
In the same way the ancient mariners used "helps" to wrap around, undergird, and support their vessels in storms, God provides his help to support us and hold us together when we are going through the storms of life.
God's mercy and grace always are available to help us at the time we need (Ref. 10). This is encouraging news indeed. When we have trials and temptations, we can come boldly to God's throne to receive mercy and find grace to help us at any time. As author Dillon Burroughs has correctly concluded, "God is never late and rarely early. He is always exactly right on time -- His time" (Ref. 11).
Listen, watch, and sing along in your heart with this video of Alan Jackson singing, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Note the words, "Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer!" (Ref. 12).
Prayer. Dear Jesus, thank you that by your sacrifice for us, we can boldly approach you. Thank you for understanding our trials and temptations. We need your mercy and grace. In your graciousness, forgive our sins and fill us with your presence. Strengthen us, support us, and surround us with your grace so we with your help will be victorious over sin and will come safely through the storms we are experiencing. We give you all the praise, glory, and honor. In your precious name we pray. Amen.
"The Meaning of God’s Favor" -- Psalm 30:5
"Made Alive Together with Christ - A New Quality of Life" -- Ephesians 2:4-5
Barnes Notes on the Bible - Commentary on Hebrews 4:16
Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers - Acts 27:17
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." (Ephesians 2:4-5)
God has made believers in Christ alive together with Christ. We identify with the resurrection of Christ, and God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life.
Consider. If you are a believer in Christ, how would you describe to an inquisitive unbeliever or a new believer what it means to be "made alive together with Christ"?
1. Who is Paul writing to?
Paul begins his letter, "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 1:1). The Greek word for saints is hagios (hag'-ee-os) which means different or holy. Christians are different from the world because we are like the Lord (Ref. 1). Clearly, Paul is writing to believers in Jesus Christ.
2. What was the former spiritual condition of the Ephesian believers before God made them alive together with Christ?
Paul writes, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world ..." (Ephesians 2:1-2). In the same way, without Christ, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We inherited our spiritual "deadness" from Adam (Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:6). Romans 5:12 says, "When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned" (Romans 5:12 NLT).
Trespasses are a lapse or deviation from the truth, a slip-up, or an error that can be unintentional or willful (Ref. 2). Sins are thoughts, words, or deeds where we miss the mark or target (Ref. 3).
3. Even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, before we were in Christ, God loved us.
God's divine attributes of mercy and love moved God to plan for and provide for our salvation (Ephesians 1:3-5, Ephesians 2:4-5, Colossians 2:13-14). Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus said about himself, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him" (John 3:16-17).
4. Together with Christ, God has made us alive.
Ephesians 2:5 tells us (believers) that God has made us alive together with Christ. In the Greek, the verb does not just say "made alive." It says, "made alive together with" (Ref. 4). Strong's Exhaustive Concordance defines this verb, suzóopoieó (sood-zo-op-oy-eh'-o), as "to reanimate conjointly with, (figuratively) -- quicken together with." As believers in Christ, we identify with and are co-joined with Christ in his resurrection. Paul writes, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
5. When God makes us alive together with Christ, God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life.
When we believe in Jesus Christ and in his resurrection, God makes us alive together with Christ. God gives us a new quality of life -- eternal life (Romans 6:23). Eternal life begins for the believer when they put their faith and trust in Christ, and continues after their physical death (John 11:25-26, Ref. 6).
Being made alive in Christ results in a new quality of life. The Greek word for eternal in eternal life is aiónios, which means perpetual, unending, age-long (Strong's Concordance, Ref. 5, Ref. 6). Aiónios includes the character of that which lasts for an age, as contrasted with that which is brief and fleeting (Ref. 5, Ref. 6). "Aiónios does not focus on the future per se, but rather on the quality of the age it relates to. People who are alive spiritually in Christ live in eternal life right now, experiencing this quality of God's life now as a present possession" (Helps Word-studies, Ref. 5, Ref. 6).
Apply. If you already are a believer in Jesus Christ, praise God that God has made you spiritually alive together with Christ. Thank God for the quality of new life that he has given you in Christ. If you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, put your faith and trust in him today. He will forgive your trespasses and sins. He will make you spiritually alive together with himself, and he will give you a new quality of life -- eternal life.
"What is Eternal Life?" (John 17:3)
"Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life (Job's Question, Jesus' Answer)" (Job 14:14, John 11:25-26)
"Jesus Christ is the Life - John 14:6"
"Jesus is the Way to Heaven" (John 14:6)
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Consider. Who is someone you can comfort with the comfort God has comforted you?
Father of Mercies and God of All Comfort
The Apostle Paul joyfully begins the main body of 2nd Corinthians with, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3). Let's discuss this verse in three parts.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
Paul begins with the language of a heart which is full of joy and that bursts forth with gratitude (Ref. 1). Paul has a comfort which he recognizes comes from God (Ref. 2). Paul shows us that it is possible and proper to bless God when we, God's people, are experiencing affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3).
The Father of Mercies
Our heavenly Father is the originator, the source of mercy and compassion (Ref. 3). As our heavenly Father, it is God's nature to impart mercy and compassion to his children. The Greek word for mercies in 2 Corinthians 1:3 is oiktirmos (oyk-tir-mos'). The short definition is pity, compassion, favor, grace, and mercy (Ref. 4).
And the God of All Comfort
God is the source of all true consolation and comfort. God is the God of all comfort because it comes from him. There is no other real source of comfort but God; and "he is able abundantly and willingly to impart consolation to his people" (Ref.1).
The Greek word for comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:3 is paraklésis (par-ak'-lay-sis), which means coming along side, encouragement, consolation, and comfort (Ref. 5).
"Comfort" is a great theme of 2 Corinthians. In the New American Standard Bible, the English words "comfort," "comforts," and "comforted" occur 10 times in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 alone.
God Comforts Us So We Can Comfort Others
Let's discuss the next verse, 2 Corinthians 1:4, in three parts.
Who Comforts Us in All Our Affliction
As the God of all comfort, God comes along side and encourages us -- all believers in Christ -- in our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:4, John 14:16-17). The Greek word for affliction is thlipsis (thlip'-sis), which means tribulation, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, "without options") (Ref. 6). Paul and his co-writer, Timothy (2 Corinthians 1:1), openly tell us from their personal life experience that they had felt an ever-continuing comfort flowing from God.
So that We Will be Able to Comfort Those Who Are In Any Affliction
Paul and Timothy knew that God comforted them not just for their own benefit, but that God's comfort might flow forth through them to others (Ref. 2). In 2 Corinthians 1:4 Paul teaches us that as disciples and followers of Jesus, the affliction we experience is part of our "schooling" and training to sympathize with and comfort others (Ref. 7). Our own life's experience with affliction coupled with God's power flowing through us helps us not only to sympathize with others but also to speak a word in season to those who are weary (Isaiah 50:4). This is the very essence of the work of comforting others (Ref. 2).
With the Comfort with which We Ourselves Are Comforted by God
The best comfort that we as Christian believers can provide to others comes from God, not from the world. As believers in Jesus Christ, we can communicate uniquely to others the forgiveness, the acceptance, and the hope for eternal life that we have through faith in Christ (Ref. 1, Ephesians 2:8-9). Recall Jesus' final words of encouragement to his disciples. "These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Apply. Thank God for how he has comforted (come along side, encouraged) you in the afflictions you have experienced. Ask God to bring to your mind someone you can comfort (come along side, encourage) in their affliction. Follow through with them as God leads, for example, listening to them, sharing how God has comforted you, and praying for or with them.
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