Boldness - The Secret to Mercy and Grace
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Hebrews 4: 14-16
Sunday 28th September 2014
We are continuing our series, ‘I am Destined to Reign’ and looking in particular at the key postures required to access the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness. Last week, we took an in-depth look at the relationship between humility and the abundance of grace, understanding that God gives grace to the humble. We learned that God is passionate about giving grace but we must be intentional about receiving it and the better we are about receiving the grace of God, the better we will be at reigning in life. We understood further that humility should not be mistaken for weakness, low-self esteem or low self-worth but that it is in fact the place of strength which is rooted in the grace of God and dependence on the finished work of Christ.
Today we will focus on the second of the postures essential to receiving abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, which is highlighted in Hebrews 4: 14-16. ‘‘Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’ Notice that in verse 16, we are instructed to come boldly; that is we are to approach God with confidence, fearlessness, without shame and with freedom of expression. The scripture here is very precise as to the posture to be adopted as we approach the throne of grace in order to receive and it is one of boldness.
Where I began my Christian journey, when we came to church we would pretty much tiptoe in to the church and whisper in hushed tones, almost as if to do otherwise would disturb God and incur His displeasure. Boldness, which is an expression of our faith, guarantees us access to the mercy and grace needed to help in the time of need.
In order to attain a clearer understanding of the significance of this instruction from Paul, we need to delve further into the scriptures and embark on a journey of understanding into the Old Testament, in which grace is concealed and then into the New Testament in which grace is marvelously revealed.
Hebrews 9:2-5 provides us with a description of the Tabernacle of Moses; it had two rooms: the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place which were separated by a curtain which bible scholars indicate was around 3 feet thick. Only priests were allowed into the Holy Place and only the High Priest was allowed into the Most Holy place in the tabernacle and he did so once a year to offer sacrifices to God for the sins of the people and for his own sins. In Exodus 28: 31-35, we are provided with an account of the code of dress for the High Priest for his annual appearance before God. The ephod had gold bells sown into the hem, providing those outside with an indicator that the High Priest was still moving and therefore alive whilst ministering before God. As is clear from Exodus 28:35, the prospect of death of the High Priest due to an error being made or any other misdemeanor before God was real; so much so that a rope was tied around the High Priest’s ankle to enable those outside to drag his body out in the event that he was killed. The approach to God in the Most Holy Place by the High Priest was therefore with anxiety, fear and trepidation. It is against this backdrop of fear and consciousness of sin that the early believers were faced with what would appear to be a bizarre instruction from Paul to now enter into God’s presence with boldness; what, you may wonder brought about such a dramatic change?
If we look carefully at the scripture, a clear picture emerges. In Hebrews 4: 14, we are told, ‘So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.’ Hebrews 8: 1-2 says, ‘We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honour beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands’. Hebrews 9:11 explains that Christ has become the High Priest over all the good things that have come and has entered into the perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands. When Moses’ Tabernacle was constructed, you will remember, he was told to build it according to a specific pattern; it was a representation of the tabernacle in heaven. Verse 12 tells us, ‘With his own blood, not the blood of goats and calves – he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.’ Later on in Hebrews 9:24-25, we are told that Christ entered into Heaven itself and appeared before God on our behalf and that unlike the earthly High Priest who had to enter the Most Holy Place over and over again with the blood of animals, Christ’s appearance before God on our behalf was a once-only and permanent event in which sin was forever removed. Christ entered the perfect heavenly tabernacle and appeared on our behalf before God with His own blood and in doing so, has forever broken the power of sin over our lives and has secured our redemption and our victory! Hebrews 10: 19, summarises the position as, ‘And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.’
We are entitled to appear in God’s presence with boldness; indeed we are instructed to do so. We no longer have consciousness of our sin but can enjoy total freedom and liberty. We live in the consciousness of the finished work of Jesus and our victory is forever established. It is so important that we have a full understanding of this truth because the enemy would seek to remind us of our sin and guilt in order to convince us that we are not entitled to enjoy the freedom that the finished work of Christ has accomplished for us and thereby rob us of our victory. We must live in the consciousness of the finished work of Jesus Christ; the perfect sacrifice!
The bible is quite specific in referring to God’s throne of grace. At a first glance, it would appear contradictory to refer to a throne of grace given that thrones are usually symbolic of judgment, rule and authority. In the book of Isaiah, (6:1-4) the prophet describes seeing the Lord sitting on a lofty throne with the train of his robe filling the Temple, attended by mighty seraphim whose voices shook the temple to its foundations. An awesome sight! Similarly in Revelation 4, we are presented with an awe-inspiring image of God on his throne from which came flashes of lightening and rumbles of thunder. However, the bible speaks of another throne: the throne of grace. This is the throne to which we are called. We are not called to the throne of judgment but to the throne of grace; a place of unmerited, unearned, undeserved favour. God has not called you to approach Him on the basis of your sin in order to judge you or on the basis of your works, as your works would never be good enough. He has called you to Him on the basis of His grace in order to give you what you do not deserve and could never earn. We are only to approach God on the basis of His grace. This enables us to come with full assurance, confidence and hope. It enables us to come without wavering, knowing that He is able and willing and indeed, eager to supply our needs and faithful to honour His promises to us.
When we approach God in prayer we are to do so on the basis of His grace. Prayer is not about how good we are, or how skillful we in quoting bible verses but how merciful He is. Prayer is based on His grace rather than your works; it is confidence in the finished works of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 8: 32 says, ‘Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't he also give us everything else?’ We can approach God on the basis of His unmerited favour alone and obtain mercy, knowing that everything we could possibly ever need has been made available to us at the throne of grace. The throne of grace is where we obtain what we do not deserve; where it is not based on our qualification, experience or eloquence but on the finished works of Jesus. When we truly understand grace, we will no longer struggle in life as there is no struggle at the throne of grace.
By way of conclusion, let’s look at an illustration of grace in an Old Testament account that will be familiar to many of us. In Esther 4 we see Queen Esther risking her life by approaching her husband the King without an invitation. The law was that only those who were invited could approach the King and if an approach was made without his express invitation and he did not extend his scepter to the uninvited person, death would certainly ensue. Esther, the account tells us, had not been invited to appear before her husband for over 30 days but needed an audience with him to save her people from destruction. When she approached uninvited however, the king extended his scepter to her and as she touched the tip, he asked her what she needed, saying “What do you wish Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you.” What a perfect representation of grace.
And so with a full understanding what the finished works of Jesus has accomplished on your behalf, I challenge you to come to God’s throne of grace with boldness. You need not come with any consciousness of sin, shame or inferiority but with boldness. And what awaits you as you come to God? All the mercy and grace to help you will ever need!
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