“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy” Hebrews 4:16 commentary by Stephen J. Cole

Hebrew416TheBeloved
Hebrews 4:16
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Because Jesus is a sympathetic and sinless high priest

Commentary by Stephen J. Cole from the O Bible.org Teaching Series on Throne of Grace Hebrew 4:14-16

WE SHOULD DRAW NEAR IN PRAYER

“Draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” “Throne of grace” is an oxymoron. To the ancient world, a throne was a forbidding place of sovereign authority and judgment. If you approached a throne and the king did not hold out his scepter, you were history! You definitely would not draw near to the throne for sympathy, especially with a trivial problem. But the author calls it the throne of grace. He makes it clear that we are welcome at this throne. He answers four questions: (1) Why draw near? (2) When should we draw near? (3) How should we draw near? And, (4) What can we expect when we draw near?

1). WHY DRAW NEAR? WE SHOULD DRAW NEAR TO THE THRONE OF GRACE BECAUSE WE ARE WEAK AND WE HAVE THERE A SYMPATHETIC HIGH PRIEST.
We don’t come because we’ve got it pretty much together and we just need a little advice. We come because we are weak (4:15). Jesus didn’t say, “Without Me, you can get along pretty well most of the time. Call Me if you need Me.” He said, “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). And when we come to the throne of grace, He doesn’t ridicule us or belittle us for our weaknesses. He welcomes us as a father welcomes his children to his side to protect them from some danger.

2). WHEN SHOULD WE DRAW NEAR? WE SHOULD DRAW NEAR TO THE THRONE OF GRACE WHENEVER WE NEED HELP.
We should come in a “time of need,” which is at all times! A main reason we do not pray is that we don’t realize how needy we are. We think we can handle things on our own. Just call in the Lord when things get really intense. But the fact is, we depend on Him for every breath we take and for every meal we eat, even if we’ve got a month’s supply of food in the freezer. Praying without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17) is necessary because we are constantly in over our heads. Prayer is the acknowledgement that our need is not partial; it is total!

3). HOW SHOULD WE DRAW NEAR? WE SHOULD DRAW NEAR TO THE THRONE OF GRACE DIRECTLY, WITH CONFIDENCE IN OUR HIGH PRIEST.
The author does not say, “Draw near through your local priest.” He says, “Let us draw near.” Us means every believer. Dr. Dwight Pentecost, one of my professors in seminary, told how he was in Mexico City during a feast for the Immaculate Conception of Mary. There was a long line of thousands waiting for confession, but only one confession booth. As the noon bells rang, an old, stooped over priest came out of the booth, walking with two canes. A woman with several small children fell on her knees before him and grabbed him by the knees. She cried out to him, begging him to relieve her burdens. But he struck her on the side of the head with one of his canes and went off through the crowd. He was an unsympathetic, weak human priest.

Thankfully, we do not have to go through any human priest to draw near to the very throne of God.

We could not dare come in our own merit or righteousness. But we can come with confidence because the blood of Jesus, our high priest, has gained us access (Eph. 3:12). Our confidence is not in how good we’ve been or in how well we can pray.

Spurgeon pointed out that God will overlook our shortcomings and poor prayers just as a loving parent will overlook the mistakes in the sentences of his toddler. Even when we have sinned badly, if we draw near to confess our sins, He will cleanse our wounds and begin the healing process, just as a parent would carefully clean and bandage the wounds of his child. Finally,

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT WHEN WE DRAW NEAR? WE WILL RECEIVE MERCY AND FIND GRACE TO HELP IN OUR TIME OF NEED.
What a wonderful promise! We won’t be scolded for having a need. We won’t be told that our need is too trivial for such an important high priest to be troubled with. We will receive mercy and find grace to help. “Help” is a technical nautical term that is used elsewhere only in Acts 27:17 to describe the cables that the sailors wrapped around the hull of Paul’s ship during the storm so that it would not break apart. We encountered the verb in Hebrews 2:18, where it has the nuance of running to the aid of someone crying for help. When your life seems to be coming apart at the seams because of the storm, cry out to our sympathetic high priest at the throne of grace. You will receive mercy and find grace to help.

What is the difference between mercy and grace? They somewhat overlap, but mercy has special reference to God’s tenderness toward us because of the misery caused by our sins, whereas grace refers to His undeserved favor in freely forgiving our sins, which actually deserve His judgment.

Together, both words reflect the good news that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor. 5:18). All that trust in Christ and His shed blood as the payment for their sins have free access at the throne of grace to God’s boundless mercy and undeserved favor!

Conclusion
I like John Piper’s analogy that prayer is our walkie-talkie to get the supplies we need in the spiritual war that we are engaged in. It’s not an intercom to call the maid to bring extra beverages to the den. In other words, prayer isn’t to make us comfortable and cozy, oblivious to the advancement of God’s kingdom purposes. Prayer is our walkie-talkie to bring in the needed supplies

as we seek first His kingdom and righteousness. If you’re under fire in the battle, persevere—hold fast your confession, because Jesus is our great high priest. If you have needs, pray—draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in the battle.

by Steven J. Cole
Steve served as the pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship from May, 1992 through his retirement in December, 2018. From 1977-1992 he was the pastor of Lake Gregory Community Church in Crestline, California. He graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary (Th.M., 1976 in Bible exposition) and Long Beach, California State University (B.A., philosophy, 1968). He enjoys writing and has had articles published in many different publications.

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