Sunday, 1 June 2014

HEBREWS 4:14-16 'THE THRONE OF GRACE'

'THE THRONE OF GRACE'
Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.
Hebrews 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Do you remember sitting in your Dad's car in the driving seat? You took the wheel and imagined that you were driving along the road. You were in control!
Maybe when you were a little older going on a tour of a ship or aircraft, and sitting in the Captains seat. Now you were not only in control, you had authority over others to issue them orders to do what you wanted.
The writer to the Hebrews invites us to look at a throne. not just any throne - but THE THRONE. The throne of God. The throne from which God rules the universe. The throne the Psalms sing about:
Ps 11:4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven;
Ps 45:6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;
Ps 47:8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
Ps 97:2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Ps 103:19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
Last week he took us to that throne and we saw it as the GREAT WHITE THRONE OF JUDGEMENT.
v13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
He had us stand there in our minds eye so that we would live our lives in the light of that day. Knowing one day it will be for real and we shall give an account to him. This is the second motive he gives us to keep going, to endure, to persevere in the faith: to strive to enter that rest.
The first motive and resource for persevering in the fiath was the word of God. The word that knows us, searches us, goes deep into our hearts, and is a vital means which God has given to enable his people to keep going to that eternal city whose designer and builder is God.
Now he gives us a third reason and motive why we can and why we ought to persevere: OUR HIGH PRIEST.
Here the writer is completing his second warning that begun in chapter 3 and goes through most of chapter 4 about failing to enter that rest that God promises to all who believe the gospel and trust in Christ - and he comes to his main theme.
What is the book of Hebrews about:
Heb 13:22 I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.
It is a short word of exhortation.
He also tells us what his main point is:
Heb 8:1 Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
WE HAVE SUCH A HIGH PRIEST - that is his main point. He writes about this in more detail than anywhere else in the bible. It fills 4:14-10:18 maybe beyond that.
He has earlier introduced the thought of Jesus as High Priest:
Heb 2:17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Heb 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
Now he begins to unpack what this means.
A. CONSIDER OUR HIGH PRIEST:
Hebrews 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
[1] We have a great high priest
Who is your Doctor?
Who is your MP?
Who is your Mayor?
Who is your EMP?
Who is your PM?
Who is your Monarch?
Bristol East: Kerry MaCarthy;
Bristol North West Charlotte Leslie
Bristol South Rt Hon Dawn Primarolo
Bristol West Stephen Williams
EMP's - we have six of them! Cornwall to Gloucester - 2 UKIP; 2 Conservatives; 1 Labour; 1 Green Party.
Each one of these people are linked to you and you to them. They hold these offices, and carry out their functions, for you, on your behalf.
Her Majesty when she goes abroad represents you. Your Doctor holds your medical records and has a duty of care for you.
Who is your high priest? Jesus the Son of God. He, if you are a Christian, is your high priest.
[2] The same Jesus we read of in the gospels -
Hebrews 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God,
Where is Jesus now?
He has passed through the heavens.
Ascension day - Thursday 29th May!
Jesus, the name given to the incarnate Son of God. One who is fully God and fully man. (Hebrews 2 that he was made like us, 'flesh and blood'!)
He has gone through the heavens!
That doesn't mean he came out the other side, but he has gone right the way through to the very throne of God - Hebrews 1:8-9; v13.
Talk about friends in high places! They do not come any higher than this! Nor is anyone a better friend than Jesus
Prov 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Since our friend is our high priest let us hold fast our confession!
Bible: 1 Cor 15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
Php 2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Rom 10:9 because, 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.
Properly the writer is referring to something more detailed than these confessions;
Heb 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
It included belief in Jesus as high priest.
Confession of faith - 1689 Baptist Confession of faith - on my phone. Example.
A. CONSIDER OUR HIGH PRIEST
B. SEE HOW PERFECTLY EQUIPPED HE IS TO BE OUR HIGH PRIEST:
You want to hold fast to your confession - but how? The temptation to give up or go back is so strong!
(We have seen that they had suffered considerable persecution, confiscation of belongings, some were in prison, and the dark clouds of further and fiercer persecution were coming up.)
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus knows, he understands, he fully sympathizes with our weakness.
He knows what it is to live in a family, he had brothers and sisters, cousins.
He knows what it is to work, to deal with customers, difficult tasks - he is called the Carpenter (small builder)
He knows what it is to be oppressed by a foreign government - the Romans!
He knows what it is to be tired, bruised and battered. To have people constantly making demands. To be the object of gossip, lies, plots and persecution.
He knows what it is to say: Mt 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
He knows what it is to be tempted. We are given an insight into some of his temptations: Matthew 4:1-11
The nature of the temptation is seen by Jesus' answer.
BUT Jesus doesn't know what it's like to have a telephone constantly ringing; or the neighbours noisy radio; or waiting in an airport for 24 hours;
He doesn't know what it is like to be a woman, a mother, a wife.
So he hasn't been tempted in every way as we are!
Yes he has in that behind every temptation there is a common root - that would touches different aspects of what it is to be a human being. Our pride, our hopes, our fears, our needs, our emotions, our status, our ambitions, our longings, our trust, our dependence on God.
The outward details of the temptations may vary from place to place, from generation to generation, from men to women, but the core aspects of the temptations remain the same. Jesus was tempted in every one of these that anyone can be tempted in.
The devil tried everything! All his schemes, his wiles, his traps that he had used on men and women since Adam and Eve.
Jesus never gave way once. He was without sin. ...but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
When you go to him and tell him that you are finding it hard to keep going he does not condemn you; he knows our weakness, he has experienced it all, he sympathises.
His heart is moved - AV we have not a high priest who cannot be touched. He is not unable to sympathize.
A. CONSIDER OUR HIGH PRIEST
B. SEE HOW PERFECTLY EQUIPPED HE IS TO BE OUR HIGH PRIEST
C. SO GO TO HIM AND RECEIVE HELP AND GRACE
He does more than sympathise. He helps!
v16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
That magnificent throne from which he rules the universe; he governs the nations, from where he reigns, is for the child of God, the believer, also a throne of grace.
From this throne he dispenses justice. He rules in righteousness. AND it is from this throne, for the believer who comes in his weakness, he gives grace.
That means he does not give us what we deserve!
He does not give us what we have earned - TESCO points, money of petrol/diesel.
He deals with us in grace.
That means [1] we may receive MERCY AND FIND GRACE.
We do so before it's to late. Before we have let go of our confession, before we fail to enter the rest,
We receive mercy and find grace in OUR TIME OF NEED.
What is this grace that helps us and keeps us going?
Jeremy Treat: "The great American theologian Al Pacino once said, “I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn't work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.”
He comments: Pacino’s statement taps into a tension that we all sense intuitively but maybe have not expressed explicitly. If God is forgiving, then why strive for a holy life? If the penalty has been paid, then why must progress be made?
I believe the tension felt here ultimately comes from a confused view of grace.

What Is Grace?

I used to think of grace as a spiritual substance that God stores in piles behind his heavenly throne and dispenses to his people below. In other words, grace is stuff that God gives apart from himself.
How wrong I was! Grace is not a thing. Grace is not stuf that God gives us apart from himself. He doesn’t run out of it. God gives us himself when we don’t deserve it; that is grace. The oft-repeated definition of grace as an undeserved gift is right but does not go far enough when referring to the grace of God. Grace is a gift, but God is not only the giver, he himself is the gift. God graces us with himself."
What do we need to keep going? God doesn't give us grace like a duracell battery it runs and runs out and we need a replacement. He gives us himself.
Isn't that what Joshua needed. Joshua 1v9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
The Lord in his grace forgives and transforms us. With him we can keep going.
The writer is teaching us that not only the word of God; and the thought of giving an account to the Lord, but also prayer plays a vital part in our perseverance.
The devil will tell you: You are a weak and miserable Christian, what ever makes you think that God is going to hear your prayers?
OR: You have just sinned he is not going to listen to you now for a long time, if ever (as if only time will wipe away sin!)
OR: How can you go to God when you are so depressed and miserable! A Christian is meant to me full of joy, rejoice in the Lord always! God loves a cheerful prayer, not a miserable one!
How does Satan get to you? What does he say to you to keep you from praying when you feel that you want and need to do so?
He has many strategies to keep us from praying by tempting us to the computer, newspaper, TV, extra sleep, other things so we forget to pray. But here the writer is concentrating on when we feel it's all getting too much - and we think about praying and he jumps in to tempt us not to do so.
What is his go to temptation for you? The one that most knocks you down?
Do not let even that temptation keep you from the throne of grace. If you have just fallen to it you will receive mercy and find grace. Better next time to go whilst you are being tempted, before you fall and receive mercy and grace to resist that temptation.
What was that temptation for? What was Satan's purpose in it? Maybe several reasons - to bring dishonour to the name of the Lord, cause others to stumble, be a means of tempting others, and many more reasons - but always one reason present in every temptation, is to keep you from the throne of grace.
If Satan can keep you from praying then he has you! The lion has his pray between his teeth ready to devour. You will not hold on to your confession, you will not enter that rest, you will not be saved. If you do not pray you will be lost.
Children of God pray to their heavenly Father. Prayer is the Christians vital breath.
Since we have such a high priest we can draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. We will not be turned away. There is one on the throne who understands, who sympathises, and who can give mercy and grace in our time of need.
There is nothing to keep you from him! Your sin? He already knows, go and confess it. your weakness? He understands - so why are you waiting? Go and get help, receive mercy and grace.


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