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Hebrews 4:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace - The allusion to the high priest, and his office on the day of atonement, is here kept up. The approach mentioned here is to the כפרת kapporeth, ἱλαστηριον, the propitiatory or mercy-seat. This was the covering of the ark of the testimony or covenant, at each end of which was a cherub, and between them the shechinah, or symbol of the Divine Majesty, which appeared to, and conversed with, the high priest. Here the apostle shows the great superiority of the privileges of the new testament above those of the old; for there the high priest only, and he with fear and trembling, was permitted to approach; and that not without the blood of the victim; and if in any thing he transgressed, he might expect to be struck with death. The throne of grace in heaven answers to this propitiatory, but to this All may approach who feel their need of salvation; and they may approach μετα παρῥησιας, with freedom, confidence, liberty of speech, in opposition to the fear and trembling of the Jewish high priest. Here, nothing is to be feared, provided the heart be right with God, truly sincere, and trusting alone in the sacrificial blood.

That we may obtain mercy - Ἱνα λαβωμεν ελεον· That we may take mercy - that we may receive the pardon of all our sins; there is mercy for the taking. As Jesus Christ tasted death for every man, so every man may go to that propitiatory, and take the mercy that is suited to his degree of guilt.

And find grace - Mercy refers to the pardon of sin, and being brought into the favor of God. Grace is that by which the soul is supported after it has received this mercy, and by which it is purified from all unrighteousness, and upheld in all trials and difficulties, and enabled to prove faithful unto death.

To help in time of need - Εις ευκαιρον βοηθειαν· For a seasonable support; that is, support when necessary, and as necessary, and in due proportion to the necessity. The word βονθεια is properly rendered assistance, help, or support; but it is an assistance in consequence of the earnest cry of the person in distress, for the word signifies to run at the cry, θειν εις βοην, or επι βοην θειν . So, even at the throne of grace, or great propitiatory, no help can be expected where there is no cry, and where there is no cry there is no felt necessity; for he that feels he is perishing will cry aloud for help, and to such a cry the compassionate High Priest will run; and the time of need is the time in which God will show mercy; nor will he ever delay it when it is necessary. We are not to cry to-day to be helped to-morrow, or at some indefinite time, or at the hour of death. We are to call for mercy and grace when we need them; and we are to expect to receive them when we call. This is a part of our liberty or boldness; we come up to the throne, and we call aloud for mercy, and God hears and dispenses the blessing we need.

That this exhortation of the apostle may not be lost on us, let us consider: -

  1. That there is a throne of grace, i.e. a propitiatory, the place where God and man are to meet.
  • That this propitiatory or mercy-seat is sprinkled with the atoning blood of that Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.
  • That we must come up, προσερχωμεθα, to this throne; and this implies faith in the efficacy of the sacrifice.
  • That we must call aloud on God for his mercy, if we expect him to run to our assistance.
  • That we must feel our spiritual necessities, in order to our calling with fervency and earnestness.
  • That calling thus we shall infallibly get what we want; for in Christ Jesus, as a sacrificial offering, God is ever well pleased; and he is also well pleased with all who take refuge in the atonement which he has made.
  • That thus coming, feeling, and calling, we may have the utmost confidence; for we have boldness, liberty of access, freedom of speech; may plead with our Maker without fear; and expect all that heaven has to bestow; because Jesus, who died, sitteth upon the throne! Hallelujah! the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
  • All these are reasons why we should persevere.
  • Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace - “The throne of grace!” What a beautiful expression. A throne is the seat of a sovereign; a throne of grace is designed to represent a sovereign seated to dispense mercy and pardon. The illustration or comparison here may have been derived from the temple service. In that service God is represented as seated in the most holy place on the mercy seat. The high priest approaches that seat or throne of the divine majesty with the blood of the atonement to make intercession for the people, and to plead for pardon; see the notes on Hebrews 9:7-8. That scene was emblematic of heaven. God is seated on a throne of mercy. The great High Priest of the Christian calling, having shed his own blood to make expiation, is represented as approaching, God and pleading for the pardon of people. To a God willing to show mercy he comes with the merits of a sacrifice sufficient for all, and pleads for their salvation. We may, therefore, come with boldness and look for pardon. We come not depending on our own merits, but we come where a sufficient sacrifice has been offered for human guilt; and where we are assured that God is merciful. We may, therefore, come without hesitancy, or trembling, and ask for all the mercy that we need.

    That we may obtain mercy - This is what we want first. We need pardon - as the first thing when we come to God. We are guilty and self-condemned - and our first cry should be for “mercy” - “mercy.” A man who comes to God not feeling his need of mercy must fail of obtaining the divine favor; and he will be best prepared to obtain that favor who has the deepest sense of his need of forgiveness.

    And find grace - Favor - strength, help, counsel, direction, support, for the various duties and trials of life. This is what we next need - we all need - we always need. Even when pardoned, we need grace to keep us from sin, to aid us in duty, to preserve us in the day of temptation. And feeling our need of this, we may come and ask of God “all” that we want for this purpose. Such is the assurance given us; and to this bold approach to the throne of grace all are freely invited. In view of it, let us,

    (1) Rejoice that there “is” a throne of grace. What a world would this be if God sat on a throne of “justice” only, and if no mercy were ever to be shown to people! Who is there who would not be overwhelmed with despair? But it is not so. He is on a throne of grace. By day and by night; from year to year; from generation to generation; he is on such a throne. In every land he may be approached, and in as many different languages as people speak, may they plead for mercy. In all times of our trial and temptation we may be assured that he is seated on that throne, and wherever we are, we may approach him with acceptance.

    (2) we “need” the privilege of coming before such a throne. We are sinful - and need mercy; we are feeble, and need grace to help us. There is not a day of our lives in which we do not need pardon; not an hour in which we do not need grace.

    (3) how obvious are the propriety and necessity of prayer! Every man is a sinner - and should pray for pardon; every man is weak, feeble, dependent, and should pray for grace. Not until a man can prove that he has never done any sin, should he maintain that he has no need of pardon; not until he can show that he is able alone to meet the storms and temptations of life, should he feel that he has no need to ask for grace. Yet who can feel this? And how strange it is that all people do not pray!

    (4) it is easy to be forgiven. All that needs to be done is to plead the merits of our Great High Priest, and God is ready to pardon. Who would not be glad to be able to pay a debt in a manner so easy? Yet how few there are who are willing to pay the debt to justice thus!

    (5) it is easy to obtain all the grace that we need. We have only to “ask for it” - and it is done. How easy then to meet temptation if we would! How strange that any should rely on their own strength, when they may lean on the arm of God!

    (6) if people are not pardoned, and if they fall into sin and ruin, they alone are to blame. There is a throne of grace. It is always accessible. There is A God. He is always ready to pardon. There is A Redeemer. He is the Great High Priest of people. He is always interceding. His merits may always be pleaded as the ground of our salvation. Why then, O why, should any remain unforgiven and perish? On them alone the blame must lie. In their own bosoms is the reason why they are not saved.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    Observe the end proposed: rest spiritual and eternal; the rest of grace here, and glory hereafter; in Christ on earth, with Christ in heaven. After due and diligent labour, sweet and satisfying rest shall follow; and labour now, will make that rest more pleasant when it comes. Let us labour, and quicken each other to be diligent in duty. The Holy Scriptures are the word of God. When God sets it home by his Spirit, it convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It will discover to men their thoughts and purposes, the vileness of many, the bad principles they are moved by, the sinful ends they act to. The word will show the sinner all that is in his heart. Let us hold fast the doctrines of Christian faith in our heads, its enlivening principles in our hearts, the open profession of it in our lips, and be subject to it in our lives. Christ executed one part of his priesthood on earth, in dying for us; the other he executes in heaven, pleading the cause, and presenting the offerings of his people. In the sight of Infinite Wisdom, it was needful that the Saviour of men should be one who has the fellow-feeling which no being but a fellow-creature could possibly have; and therefore it was necessary he should actual experience of all the effects of sin that could be separated from its actual guilt. God sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, Ro 8:3; but the more holy and pure he was, the more he must have been unwilling in his nature to sin, and must have had deeper impression of its evil; consequently the more must he be concerned to deliver his people from its guilt and power. We should encourage ourselves by the excellence of our High Priest, to come boldly to the throne of grace. Mercy and grace are the things we want; mercy to pardon all our sins, and grace to purify our souls. Besides our daily dependence upon God for present supplies, there are seasons for which we should provide in our prayers; times of temptation, either by adversity or prosperity, and especially our dying time. We are to come with reverence and godly fear, yet not as if dragged to the seat of justice, but as kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns. We have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus; he is our Advocate, and has purchased all our souls want or can desire.
    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (EGW), 1078

    (Romans 8:26; Hebrews 4:16.) Heaven Open to Petitions—[Matthew 3:13-17 quoted.] What does this scene mean to us? How thoughtlessly we have read the account of the baptism of our Lord, not realizing that its significance was of the greatest importance to us, and that Christ was accepted of the Father in man's behalf. As Jesus bowed on the banks of Jordan and offered up His petition, humanity was presented to the Father by Him who had clothed His divinity with humanity. Jesus offered Himself to the Father in man's behalf, that those who had been separated from God through sin, might be brought back to God through the merits of the divine Petitioner. Because of sin the earth had been cut off from heaven, but with His human arm Christ encircles the fallen race, and with His divine arm He grasps the throne of the Infinite, and earth is brought into favor with heaven, and man into communion with his God. The prayer of Christ in behalf of lost humanity cleaved its way through every shadow that Satan had cast between man and God, and left a clear channel of communication to the very throne of glory. The gates were left ajar, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit of God, in the form of a dove, encircled the head of Christ, and the voice of God was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 5BC 1078.1

    The voice of God was heard in answer to the petition of Christ, and this tells the sinner that his prayer will find a lodgment at the throne of the Father. The Holy Spirit will be given to those who seek for its power and grace, and will help our infirmities when we would have audience with God. Heaven is open to our petitions, and we are invited to come “boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” We are to come in faith, believing that we shall obtain the very things we ask of Him (The Signs of the Times, April 18, 1892). 5BC 1078.2

    The Sound of a Death Knell—When Christ presented Himself to John for baptism, Satan was among the witnesses of that event. He saw the lightnings flash from the cloudless heavens. He heard the majestic voice of Jehovah that resounded through heaven, and echoed through the earth like peals of thunder, announcing, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” He saw the brightness of the Father's glory overshadowing the form of Jesus, thus pointing out with unmistakable assurance the One in that crowd whom He acknowledged as His Son. The circumstances connected with this baptismal scene were of the greatest interest to Satan. He knew then for a certainty that unless he could overcome Christ, from thenceforth there would be a limit to his power. He understood that this communication from the throne of God signified that heaven was now more directly accessible to man than it had been, and the most intense hatred was aroused in his breast. 5BC 1078.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, 42

    If ever there was a time when every house should be a house of prayer, it is now. Infidelity and skepticism prevail. Iniquity abounds. Corruption flows in the vital currents of the soul, and rebellion against God breaks out in the life. Enslaved by sin, the moral powers are under the tyranny of Satan. The soul is made the sport of his temptations; and unless some mighty arm is stretched out to rescue him, man goes where the arch-rebel leads the way. 7T 42.1

    And yet, in this time of fearful peril, some who profess to be Christians have no family worship. They do not honor God in the home; they do not teach their children to love and fear Him. Many have separated themselves so far from Him that they feel under condemnation in approaching Him. They cannot “come boldly unto the throne of grace,” “lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Hebrews 4:16; 1 Timothy 2:8. They have not a living connection with God. Theirs is a form of godliness without the power. 7T 42.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 218

    The fields nigh and afar off belong to God; for the world is His. Usurpers have taken possession of God's earthly property, but He will make a way so that the truth may be presented in the dark corners of the earth. If men will only follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit they will find ways and means by which the message may go forth and gain a glorious victory. TM 218.1

    The servants of God who live in obedience to His requirements, who speak the truth in humility, will carry an influence with them which will work for the salvation of many souls. But we must not allow the people to hang helplessly upon us. We are human and finite. We must direct them to Christ, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” Jesus pleads the case of His colaborers, but every hour they need to feel humble dependence upon the Captain of their salvation, and through the intercession of Christ our Advocate many souls will be saved unto eternal life. The Lord has provided for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon His workers, and everyone who sincerely seeks God will find Him. We are to come boldly to the throne of grace, and seek the footstool of mercy. We are to believe that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. Our great High Priest who has passed into the heavens says, “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever.” The Holy Spirit abides with consecrated laborers who in any locality are seeking to advance the cause. TM 218.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Messages to Young People, 81

    Those who are partakers of the divine nature will not give way to temptation. The enemy is working with all his might to overcome those who are striving to live the Christian life. He comes to them with temptations, in the hope that they will yield. Thus he hopes to discourage them. But those who have planted their feet firmly on the Rock of Ages will not yield to his devices. They will remember that God is their Father and Christ their Helper. The Saviour came to our world to bring to every tried, tempted soul strength to overcome even as He overcame. I know the power of temptation; I know the dangers that are in the way; but I know, too, that strength sufficient for every time of need is provided for those who are struggling against temptation. MYP 81.1

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