Throne of Grace

Throne of Grace

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. 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. 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.

Hebrews 4:14-16

In the Old Testament, priests would approach God for worship and prayer after making sure that they were consecrated and clean from all physical blemishes (Lev. 21:17ff).  This foreshadowed the spiritual blessing that all Christians would receive, for we all are priests (1 Pet. 2:9) who have been washed clean of our sins through baptism into Christ (Rom. 6:1-5; Acts 22:16) and who are continually cleansed by the blood of Christ as we walk in the light (1 John 1:7-9).  As a result, we too can confidently draw near to God’s throne through prayerful worship.  What an honor!

The blood of Christ freely given allows mankind the access to stand holy before God.

The blood of Christ freely given allows mankind the access to stand holy before God.

We enjoy this privilege because of our high priest, Jesus Christ.  He ascended through the heavens to sit at the right hand of God after offering himself upon the cross to take our place (Heb. 7:26-27; 9:24; cf. Mark 16:19).  He sympathizes with our struggle against sin, because he too was tempted in all the ways in which we are tempted…yet never gave into those temptations (1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5).  This is why he is a high priest who is merciful to us and faithful to help us (Heb. 2:17-18), willing and able to save those who come to God through him and make intercession for them (Heb. 7:24-25).

Another reason we can approach God’s throne is because it is a throne of mercy and grace, as well as righteousness and justice (Ps. 89:14).  We have no need to be afraid to penitently come to God in prayer, for God is a God of mercy and forgiveness to those who truly seek him.  Granted, willful sinners who are rebelliously unrepentant will find no mercy on that final day (Heb. 10:26-31), but  those of us who are humble and sorrowful over our sins and have washed them away through baptism into Jesus will find nothing but God’s forgiveness.  Praise him for that!

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Why are you Waiting Saul of Tarsus?

Why are you Waiting Saul?

Saul of Tarsus waited three days in the city of Damascus for someone to tell him what he needed to do (cf. Acts 9:8-9). It was no doubt a trying time for the heartbroken man: Three days, full of grief, repentance, and prayer. He refused to eat, or drink. He knew he was in trouble and he knew he needed to do something about it. But he was forced to wait, for Jesus had commanded him to do so, and Saul had a new found awe and respect for Jesus.

For what do you wait?

For what do you wait?

On the road to Damascus, Saul had seen the risen Lord, and had been struck blind by the same. At that Saul no doubt knew he had had gotten off easy, for Saul had been hunting, imprisoning, torturing and killing Christians – doggedly so. The first words of Christ to Saul had been, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (cf. Acts 9:1-7)

Saul had been persecuting Jesus, because he had been convinced that Jesus was a fraud and that Christianity was a lie, but seeing the risen Lord in His glory converted Saul. Saul went from persecutor to believer in record time. And being a man who desired to please God, it no doubt broke Saul’s heart to know how wrong he had been. It would not be unfair to deduce that his prayers were prayers of penitence, pleas for mercy and forgiveness.

But, rather than immediately telling him what to do, Jesus commanded Saul to go into the city and wait. And so Saul waited. Three days he waited.

At the end of three days, Jesus appeared to a man named Ananias and told him to go to Saul, heal him, and tell Saul what he needed to do. Which, Ananias, after some protesting about the character of Saul, did. (cf. Acts 9:10-15)

Years later, when Saul recalled that encounter with Ananias, he could remember it vividly. It must have been quite a moment, the climax of three days of worry, anxiety and sightlessness. Saul had been left alone with little but his wounded conscience. And then, there was Ananias, explaining that Jesus had sent him, healing Saul of his blindness, and telling Saul what Jesus expected of him. Saul had work to do for Christ, he was to be an ambassador, an apostle, sent to the Gentiles to teach them about Jesus. But first there was something that Saul still needed to do. He needed to make things right with God.

So Ananias chastised Paul: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16; NKJV)

Why had Saul waited? Because Jesus had told him to. But three days was enough waiting. Paul needed to do the right thing, and get rid of those sins that were still separating him from God. He needed to obey the command of Jesus and be baptized for the remission of his sins, and brought into the family of God (cf. Acts 2:38, 47; Mark 16:16)

Years later, another apostle, Peter, would write: “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.” (1 Peter 4:3; NKJV)

How long did we spend in sin? Was it one year, five years, ten years, twenty years? However long it was, it was enough and then some. You’ve spent too much time in sin. Even if it was only a minute of sin, it was more than enough. You don’t need to waste any more time that way.

How long should we wait before we do what we need to do? Was it three days, such as Saul spent? Three years? Thirty years. Whatever the length of time, we don’t need to wait anymore. Once you know what you need to do, the question is, “Why are you waiting?” Three seconds spent in not doing the right thing is three seconds too long.

It’s notable that Saul is one of the very few examples in the book of Acts of anyone who had to wait before coming to Christ. (Cornelius in Acts 10, is perhaps the only other, and he, like Saul, was simply waiting for the preacher to get there.) Most often, when a sincere believer heard what they needed to do, they did it. Because while God is patient with us, eventually we are all going to run out of time to do the right thing; so, if you know what to do, and you haven’t done it, God is asking, “What are you waiting for?”


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Information Age

Information Age

We live in a wonderful information age. An age of such advanced technology that was unimaginable only a few years ago. We literally have unlimited information right in our hands: our phones, tablets, computers, satellite television and radio give us immediate access to limitless knowledge. Yet even in the light of this truth there seems to be more general ignorance than in any time in our history. Why? Maybe its because access to knowledge is so readily available that we don’t really study to know anything anymore. This is also true regarding God’s word and will.

From where do you get your information?

From where do you get your information?

In Acts 8–9 we read about Philip preaching and people believing, the apostles teaching and preaching, the Ethiopian eunuch desiring someone to guide him, Saul was told that he would be instructed what to do, Ananias was told to go and speak to Saul, Saul was told that he was a chosen vessel to bear the name of the Lord, Saul preached, and Barnabas spoke up for and defended Saul. Maybe we need to put down our phones, turn off the televisions and computers, and open our Bibles. Maybe we need to spend more time studying to show ourselves approved unto God (2 Timothy 2:15). Maybe we need to work to allow the word of Christ dwell in us (Colossians 3:16). Maybe then we can share the truth of God’s word to an ignorant and dying generation. Be faithful.

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