"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
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