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Bold Prayer

April 25, 2021

Hebrews 4:16



Bible References

Hebrews 4:16

Sermon Notes

Bold Prayer, 4.25.21
If you notice my title this morning, “Bold Prayer,” you might remember a similar sermon I preached recently. The similar sermon was called, “A Prayer for Boldness.” This morning’s is, “Bold Prayer.” The difference of title is intentional. This morning we will discuss the type attitude that should accompany our prayer lives. We will be less concerned with what to pray for and more concerned with the manner in which we should pray. More about how to pray, less about what to pray. The Bible instructs us regarding both: what to pray for and how to pray. Just as we need direction from God regarding what to pray, so also we need direction from him regarding how to pray.
If you have a copy of God’s Word, please go ahead and open in your Bible’s to Hebrews 4:16. And as you are turning there, I just want to let you know how thankful I am that you allow me the opportunity to share God’s Word with you. The Word is God is such a tremendous gift that God has given to the church. And it is such a privilege that you allow me to have to week-in, week-out, along with Pastor Jesse, to share the Word of God with you. To be able to dwell on and study Scripture and then share that meditation with you on Sunday morning is a tremendous privilege. Thank you for granting me that opportunity.
And if you ever have a question about what is said from the pulpit, little theologians you are included in this, please feel free to come and talk to either myself, Pastor Jesse, or one of the elders. We would love to have the opportunity to talk with you further about the Word of God.
Now to our passage. Hebrews 4:16. This is what the Word of God says to us this morning,
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.
Despite its short length, this passage is chalked full with God’s amazing, living-giving truth. What we want to do is to study and reflect on this single passage to see how we as a church and as individuals need to respond to the marvelous grace of God. In light of this passage, I will pull out two ways that God wants us to respond to this passage.
Pray with Confidence
What God wants us to do, first, in light of this passage, is that he wants us to pray with confidence. Pray with confidence. To understand this point, to understand what God is speaking to us by means of His word this morning, to know how we should live lives that glorify God, we have to look at the text together. We must understand the Scriptures to understand how God wants us to live.
The first word that we need to hone-in on here is the word, “then.” This word “then” can function in two different ways. It can function like, “I went to the store, then I went to the park, then I went home.” That way “then” is moving along a story. That’s not how the “then” is working in v. 16. Instead, the “then” in v. 16 is functioning as a conjunction. It is tying together v. 16 with the verses that precede it. It’s making a logical connection between v. 15 and v. 16.
Little Theologians
We might understand this usage of “then” like this.
The young theologians listened very well today. That means, then, that I have a gift for them after the service.
Are you listening, young theologians? Just in case you weren’t, I’ll repeat it.
The young theologians listened very well today. That means, then, that I have a gift for them after the service.
Young theologians, I’ll be up here at the end of the service with a gift for you. Make sure you listen. Parents, don’t worry. It’s not candy this time. It’s a little toy.
Verse 15
The “then” in v. 16 is connecting v. 16 to the ideas that precede it. So to understand v. 16, we have to understand v. 15. So, let’s read that verse together. It says this,
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.
What we see in this verse, v. 15, is an emphasis on Jesus’ humanity. The Bible teaches that Jesus was like us in every way, yet without sin. That’s what this verse is teaching. So how does v. 15 relate to v. 16? How should we understand the “then?” I think we understand it this way. Because of who Jesus is, we have access to God the Father through prayer. It’s very simple. Because Jesus is human, humans are accepted before God. Humans, me and you, have access to God because of Jesus Christ. That’s the basic idea.
This point touches upon the meaning of the gospel. What is the “gospel?” It is the story of the person and work of Christ in his first and second coming. The gospel is as much about Jesus’ person as it is about his work. It’s not either/or. It’s both and.
Life Change is Possible with Jesus
Bringing this to bear on a larger theological point. What we do in the Christian life, is totally predicated on Jesus. The Christian life starts with Jesus. It is all about him. Always and only. It’s all about Jesus. Because Jesus is so great, so wonderful, so dear, and precious, life change is possible. Because Jesus is who he is, we can have hope. Did you know that the gospel of Jesus Christ means that change is possible? That’s what this “then” indicates. The power of Jesus means that the future doesn’t have to be how the past is. Life change is possible. Praying with power, confidence is possible. Living a vibrant and meaningful life is possible because of Jesus. Approaching God with our needs and desires is possible. And it’s all because of him. Not based on what we do. It is solely based upon Jesus.
Let Us
You know, I’m not really a vegetable guy. I’ll eat them from time to time, but rarely do I really want some vegetables. Sometimes I do, but rarely. I’d much rather have beef and cookies. Y’all hear me this morning. As Christians, this passage is calling us to love a certain type of vegetable. It’s us to love lettuce. Do you love lettuce? You must. It’s a Christian command.
Look at the first two words of v. 16. The verse says,
Let us
This is our biblical vegetable this morning. Let us. What I want you to notice about these two words are that they are plural in nature. The author is saying, “Y’all!” Prayer isn’t just a private endeavor that we do as individual Christians. Yes, it is private, but it is also something that we do together. Praying together is entailed here, not just praying as individuals. This passage is calling for corporate prayer, not just individual prayer. There must be both in the life of a Christians. Christians must pray by themselves and pray with other Christians, the church. We as CBC need to pray together. On May 16, we will have a church-wide praying meeting here in the sanctuary on Sunday evening. In light of this vegetable, this “let us,” we need to come and pray together as a church. It the biblical vegetable we need to regularly consume together.
Draw Near
During our prayer meeting, we will together draw near to God. The “draw near” can also mean “approach.” The idea here is of coming close to someone who is important. Let’s say you see someone really important from afar and you’ve never met this person. You might be fearful and timid to meet them. Your heart might start pounding, your palms might sweat, you might have to gulp a few times. When we are in the presence of someone who is powerful and important, we get scared.
And God is highly exalted. So we should have reverence and respect for him. We should have a healthy sense of trepidation as we come to him in prayer, as we approach him. For, after all, we are approaching the God of the entire universe, the judge of all the earth. Yes, he is exalted, high, and holy. He is God of the universe. There should be some trepidation we have in coming to him. Notice the reference to “throne” in the verse. “Let us with confidence draw near to the throne.” So “throne” here is an indication that God is God. He sits on a throne. He is Master and Ruler of the universe. He reigns forever and ever. This “throne” indicates God is able to answer your prayers.
Of Grace
But notice that it’s not just a throne we come to. It doesn’t just say, “Let us draw near to the throne.” It says, “A throne of grace.” It’s a “throne of grace.” Praise God. It’s not a throne of judgment, wrath, anger, or vengeance. It’s a throne of grace. Love. Mercy. Compassion. Don’t stay far away. Come to him. Pray to him. He is high and exalted, so he can provide you with what you need, and he is gracious and love, so he is willing to provide what you ask. That his throne is a throne of “grace” indicates that God not only can answer your prayers, he wants to. God never wants you to not come to him.
With Confidence
So that’s what we are supposed to do. Draw near. Pray to God. Come close to him. But we are also supposed to come to him, to pray to God in a certain manner. We are supposed to do it “with confidence.” It says it right here in this passage. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.” This is very simple. When we come to God, when we come to his throne of grace, we need come to it with assurance. That assurance is an assurance of God’s love for us in light of the Lord’s Jesus Christ. That assurance is an assurance that for the Christian there is therefore no condemnation in Christ Jesus. That assurance is an assurance that God is able to and willing to provide us with what we need. That assurance is an assurance that God will never leave us nor forsake us. That assurance is that God’s grace is greater than all our sin. Therefore, we need never be scared of our heavenly Father, never shamed into silence, never overweighed with guilt that we don’t come to him. Tell him exactly how you feel. Speak plainly and frankly to God. There no need to front or act. Don’t be bashful. There’s no need for that. Tell God how you feel.
Jesus: Our Basis of Confidence
Now what is the basis of our confidence with God? What does this passage teach us the basis of our confidence is? Well, we get a glimpse of our boldness in coming to God through prayer with the mention of God’s gracious throne. Our boldness before God is rooted in his grace. But we can explain it a bit more. The basis of our confidence comes from v. 15. It’s Jesus. We have a high priest who knows how we feel and who has opened the way for us to be accepted by the Father. Our confidence and boldness is the grace of God as manifested to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is how that ancient hymn puts it,
My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
Expect God’s Timely Help
That’s what we must first do in response to this passage. We must pray with confidence. Not timidly or fearfully. No we must pray together as a church boldly. We must come together, lift up our voices, and storm the throne of grace. That’s what we must first do. Second, we must do this: expect God’s timely grace. Expect God’s timely grace. In other words, we must expect God to act. When we boldly come to God, we must expect God to act.
What is the purpose that the passage gives for us to draw close to God in prayer? What’s the reason this passage gives us in drawing close? Why? The passage explains it as indicated by the that. Looking at the passage,
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.
See that “that.” The “that” is telling us the purpose of drawing near to God. We should draw near to God in prayer corporately so that we might receive the help that we need. A very simple thought. To receive grace and mercy, you must come and ask for it.
This type of thought is repeated elsewhere in Scripture. James 4:2 says this,
You do not have because you do not ask God.
James states what the author Hebrews states: in order to receive the mercy and grace of God, you must come close and ask for it with confidence. This passage is teaching us that to receive the blessings of God mentioned in this passage, we need to come looking for them with assurance.
The first blessing that we received, which the passage specifies, is mercy. Mercy is this,
kindness or concern expressed for someone in need, mercy, compassion, pity, clemency
Oh, we so desperately need this from God. We so desperately need the mercy of God—his compassion and pity. We are destitute, dear friends. We struggle and strive in this life. We are wounded and hurt, burdened and weighed down. God knows this. And in light of what God knows about us, he wants us to come to him knowing that he knows this. He wants us to come to him with the confidence that he is a merciful God. He is not harsh. He is a God rich in mercy. He wants us to believe him and to come to him confidently, so too receive more and more mercy from him.
The second blessing is grace. Mercy is compassion. Grace is favor and blessing. These two concepts are closely related. It is often said that mercy is the withholding of something deserved, and grace is the giving of what is not deserved. I like that contrast. Think of grace as the gift of forgiveness. We must come to God with the confidence that he will forgive us and that he will never cast us out.
The passage ends with such a timely word of God’s timely grace. Once again, looking at the passage.
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 emphasis of this passage is not to just draw near to God with confidence to receive mercy and grace, but to draw near to God with confidence to receive mercy and grace exactly when we need it. This last portion of the passage, “help in time of need,” can also be understood as “timely help.” This passage emphasizes not just God gifts of mercy and grace but in his timing of dispensing those gifts to us.
Waiting is Hard
Dealing with God’s timing can be difficult. Waiting is hard. Patience is difficult. We want what we want, and we want it now. Further, sometimes we think we need something right in the moment, but God doesn’t provide it. That’s difficult. And let’s say you see other people getting what you’ve been asking God for years for. That’s really hard. You’re like, “God, can’t you just give me what I’ve been asking for for years!?!? Uncle, God!” What this passage is teaching us is this: hold on. If you come to him with confidence, not doubting, but fully trusting that his throne is one of grace and that Jesus is enough for you, God will provide you with what you need at exactly the moment that you need it.
Expect Timely Help
Dear friends, God is in control. He sits on a throne. That throne is characterized by grace. It is a throne of grace. God has shown us that grace in the person and work of his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the faithful high priest who is able to sympathize with us. He became like us in every way, except death. In light of this gospel message, we need to come to God in prayer with our burdens, needs, and challenges. We need to do this together as a church. As a whole church body, we must come together. And when we come together, we must have the confidence that God will provide us with what we need when we need it. We have that confidence. Because of Jesus, we have confidence that God will provide us what we need, when we need it. Keep praying, dear Christian. Keep going. Continue to storm that throne of grace because of what Jesus has done for you. As you do, have confidence that God will provide you with what you need—mercy and grace—when you need it. Expect God’s timely help.
Little theologians, I will be up here after the service. Ok?

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