Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.

Pastor Ino

↓Audio link to the sermon:

 Today’s message title is from Hebrews 4:16, 「Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.」Jesus, the high priest, encourages us to approach the throne of grace, since he can sympathize with our weaknesses and he has been through trials just like us. Today, we would like to learn from this passage together. Now, please read Hebrews 4: 14-5: 10.

 Here is a summary of what we have learned so far. Jesus is the creator and heir of all things (1: 2). Jesus is the glory of God and the exact representation of his being. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.(1:3) As such, the divinity of Christ was first emphasized here. At the same time, Jesus became fully a human and redeemed sins on the cross. Pease read Hebrews 2: 9 and 14-18 once again. In verse 17,「For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.」
This passage teaches us that Jesus is God yet he has become a perfect human and he has accomplished the work of a high priest. We receive this truth with faith. Those who believe in Christ with faith will experience salvation. However, there are also some, like the Jewish people, have sinned in the land of Canaan, separated from the grace of the gospel, and cannot enter into the rest of God. If we look at the background of that time, we can understand it in deeper level. Christians were about to experience the persecution of Rome. Until 313 AD, when Christianity was accepted officially, Christians have been suffering from the long persecution for about 300 years in Roman Empire. Life that believes in Jesus has difficulties. It’s the same now and in the past. I have to say that our lives also include difficulties. In today’s Japanese society, there is no obvious persecution, yet the mission work here in Japan includes difficulties and challenges. However, those Christians who went through the persecution in the Roman Empire, their difficulties were beyond our imagination. As the persecution increased, they dug a hole in the basement of a graveyard and hid there. It is easy to understand that many people left their faith when they faced the reality of hiding in the catacombs until the persecution passed.
 However, the author of the book of Hebrews speaks to the believers. Hebrews 4:14 says,「Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.」The expression “ascended into heaven” is used here, which Paul also uses in Ephesians 4:10. Ephesians 2: 1-2 says, 「As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.」
The ruler of the kingdom of the air is Satan. Those who are disobedient live according to their own desires, and it refers to those who live in the rule of sin. Unfortunately, Paul understands that many people live under this rule of Satan. Jesus passed through the air ruled by Satan, ascended into the heaven, as a conqueror. Christ is the one who will one day destroy this Satan and create a new heaven and earth. Our Savior Jesus is the Son of God, the High Priest, and the victorious of Satan, so the author of Hebrews encourage us not to be distracted by the temporary difficulties and keep our confession of faith firmly. Japanese translation says “since we are with a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God”, but the Greek translation says “because we have the Son of God, the great high priest.” Yes, we have the Son of God in our lives. With faith, we took Jesus’hand and started our new life with him. This is the life of believers.

 Moreover, Hebrews 4:15 says,「For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.」In every way means Jesus is well aware of what we are tempted to do. 1 John 2:16 says,「For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.」
Jesus knows these temptations that we are likely to receive. That is why I believe that we can come before Christ with a complete peace. Christ is the merciful and gracious one who holds our hand and rescues us from any of these. This is what the author of Hebrews firmly believes, too. When your perspective changes like this author’s, Jesus in the right seat of God will be seen as the throne of grace. I believe that’s going to happen to us. With such faith, we can welcome Jesus into our worship and various church meetings, since there is a promise that Jesus is with us, the believers. As we do that with faith, I believe that various meetings will be the seat of grace where Jesus is.
I welcome Jesus in my heart in every morning with a new heart and confess that this is the day to live with him. Even before going to bed, I try to look back on the day I lived with Jesus, thank him for the joy of the day, and leave the sadness and suffering to Jesus to fall asleep. In addition, I want to open the Bible every day and enjoy intimate fellowship with Jesus. Jesus is present with the Word of the Bible. I would like to pray to this Jesus for welcoming me to the throne of grace. I believe that when we understand the Bible as the gospel, not as the law, we can fully experience the throne of grace of Jesus.