Sermon: Finding Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Finding Grace

Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV)

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.

The last couple of weeks have left us wondering what went wrong in the lives of the Hebrews who left Egypt to travel and enter the Promised Land.  God has warned us over these few weeks from these passages that He doesn’t want us to be like them.  They could not enter His rest because they didn’t believe His Words.  We learned last week that there is no escaping God’s all penetrating gaze and to grumble and complain is to do it in God’s presence.

I pray that when we hear of events in Scripture, like a whole generation falling in the wilderness, we don’t point our fingers at them and say something like, why didn’t you listen and obey?  I pray when we read of events like these we are affected by them and wonder why we often act the same way.  We should also be amazed by graze.  We, like the Hebrews, have sinned by our unbelief.  The question that should be in our minds is why hasn’t God passed righteous judgment on us?

We may find ourselves a little like those who heard Peter preach at Pentecost and after he was finished, they exclaimed, What shall we do to be saved?

The writer of Hebrews now presents us with the way of escaping God’s wrath and a way to enter into His rest.

The theme of unbelief and judgment is now overpowered by a new theme.  The way to enter is through the sacrifice of our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.

For everyone who, at times, has found themselves doubting and fearful, for everyone who has trembled when hearing of God’s wrath…behold, there is a Way provided for us.  The Way is Jesus.

Doctrine- We are called to boldly enter into God’s presence, in order to find grace, through the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.

1. Our Great 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.

As we remember the battle that those of the early church was fighting against the Judaizers, who always taught that their way was superior and that Christianity must have some elements of Judaism in it to be reliable, these words from verse 14 make even more sense.  I can hear them now…You Christians don’t have a temple, you don’t have a sacrificial system, you don’t have the feasts and traditions of the elders, and you don’t even have a high priest.  Why would you ever leave an established religious system to become a Christian? The Book of Hebrews comes along and says, Oh, we have a sacrificial system, we have a temple, we have a feast, and we not only have a High Priest, we have a great High Priest.  We have literally the priest of priests.

The Greatness of Our High Priest-

He is great because He is the priest who passed through the heavens not one who has passed through the veil of the temple.  Jesus as our High priest, rather than entering into the second veil of the temple that led the priest into the Holy of Holies, into God’s symbolic presence, has actually entered through the heavens into God’s very presence.  Here the writer compares Jesus’ ascension and His going through the clouds to the priest who went through the veil.  When the priest passed through the veil he saw the symbolic presence of God but when Jesus passed through the heavens, He sat down next to God.

He is great because He has made a perfect sacrifice. His perfect sinless life and His royal credentials made Him a lamb without spot or blemish.  He gave Himself for His people.  His sacrifice takes away sin.  The Old Testament sacrifice of a bull or a lamb could not take sin away but served as a temporary covering until the perfect sacrifice was made, being Jesus Christ.

He is great because He is the Son of God. Jesus is not a son of Aaron, which all earthly priests needed to be.  Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  He alone has that title.

He is great because His priestly work is finished on earth and continues in heaven. In the Old Testament the sacrificial system was a machine that ran every day.  Non stop were sacrifices made.  The priest was more along the lines of a butcher.  At the end of the day, second shift came in and continued. The priest would go home and wash the blood off, go to bed, and get up and do it all over again.  Day after day the machine ran.  Jesus makes His sacrifice and sits down next to the Father symbolizing a finished work.  No more will Jesus get bloody from a sacrifice.  It is finished!

The apostle then concludes this section by writing that we should not doubt or waver with respect to the gospel.  Unbelief should not be named among those who have such a Great High Priest.  Let us hold fast our confession. What we’ve believed and affirmed in the past, we can be confident of for the future.

2. Our Sympathetic High Priest (Hebrews 4:15)

[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.

Many folks get caught up in an unending argument when they come to this text.  I think the reason this is so is because they don’t understand the person of Christ.  They invariably ask the question, Could Jesus have sinned? The quick answer to that question is absolutely not.  The salvation of God’s children was never in doubt.  Jesus was sent with a mission.

Luke 19:10 (ESV)

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus is the Son of man but He is also the divine Son of God.  To think that Jesus could fail is to think God is not sovereign or that His eternal decree depends upon something other than himself.

If we are to understand this verse correctly and not get sidetracked we must see together that the writer has in mind that our Great High Priest as powerful and glorious as He is can sympathize with our weaknesses and our temptations because He was at times weak and He was tempted.  To make one distinction here is to say that the word tempted could be translated as tested.  It’s not that since Jesus couldn’t sin then He really wasn’t tempted.  The test was given to Jesus just like to us.  The same test that Adam and Eve failed.  In order for Jesus to qualify as our Redeemer, He had to take the same test.  He passed.  The second Adam, as Paul calls Him, succeeded where the first Adam failed.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be weak and tired.  He knows what it’s like to take the test.

This sympathy is a godly sympathy.  Jesus doesn’t just know how we feel but He understands how we feel and in sympathy toward us sends us help.  Our High Priest can not only make a perfect sacrifice for us but can come to our rescue on a daily basis.  Jesus does this by sending us what we need the most to fight the daily temptations and struggles we face.  Jesus sends His children the Holy Spirit.

God actively comes to our aid.

John 14:16-17 (ESV)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,  [17] even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses…

Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  [27] And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Our High Priest has sent the Holy Spirit to help us.  The Jewish High Priest needed help himself.

Christ’s gift to His children is the gift of the Holy Spirit.  It’s through the Spirit that we are strengthened when weak and able to withstand temptations.  He is our Helper and Comforter.  It’s through the Spirit’s work that we bear fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23 (ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

3. The Biblical Conclusion (Hebrews 4:16)

[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.

To approach the throne of a pagan king was to place your life in jeopardy.  We can read about that kind of situation in the Book of Esther.  She goes before the King uninvited and calls for her people to pray and fast.  Then she declares, If I perish, I perish.

Our King is different.  If there ever was a King in which we should cower in fear it would be our King.  He is all knowing and perfectly holy.  His requirements are also perfection.  As sinners we should be afraid of this King.  Something happened that changed everything.  Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a perfect life, a life that pleased God.  Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin.  The wrath that was going to be ours was poured out on Christ instead.  Jesus made a perfect priestly sacrifice for us.

Now, we can boldly come before the King and we can do so with confidence and not in fear.

Apart from the work of Christ our coming would be in judgment.  Because of His work, we come expecting mercy and finding grace.  So we can come before the throne of King Jesus boldly and find mercy instead of wrath.  We can come boldly and expect grace rather than judgment.

King Jesus wants sinners to come to Him for mercy and grace.  Who else but a sinner needs mercy and grace?

Our boldness does not come because we are good enough to come into His presence.  Our boldness comes as a result of our confidence in our Great High Priest’s sacrifice for us.  We are bold in Christ.

We may acquire what we so desperately need by going to Christ for it.  In fact we were created to do so.

Ephes. 1:5-8 (ESV)

he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  [7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  [8] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

We come to Christ and receive from His wealth of grace.  We come as empty, poor beggars and receive the riches that only He has to offer.

As believers we are in constant possession of grace.  Everyday God gives us more.  There are times when through the various trials that we need more grace.  We can draw near to the Throne of Grace to find grace to help in time of need.

Whatever your situation is, Christ has grace to help.  He knows what suffering is all about.  He has made the perfect sacrifice.  He alone is the perfect High Priest.  There is no One better to come to that our Lord.

Jesus is our priestly King and He has grace to lavish upon us as we go boldly to the Throne.  It’s there that we will find grace.

How do we draw near to the Throne of Grace?  How do we enter into the King’s presence?  We enter the throne room of King Jesus through prayer.  Pray takes us through the veil and into the Holy of Holies.  As we seek the Lord through prayer we receive more and more grace to help in the time of need.

Doctrine- We are called to boldly enter into God’s presence, in order to find grace, through the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.

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