Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hold on and find grace...

“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

“While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? ‘He is not here; he has risen!’

“When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.

“Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.”
(Luke 24:1-6; 9; 11-12, NIV)

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight, right? “Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13, NIV)

If this is true, what action should we take? Should we just shrug our shoulders and go on? I don’t think so.

Three verses in Hebrews 4 – verses 14, 15 and 16 – tell us exactly what to do. “…since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16, NIV)

There are two actions mentioned in these verses, two things that we ought to do because God knows all and because we will have to give an account to him.

First action: hold firmly to the faith we profess.

Makes sense doesn’t it? If God knows all, he knows we are sinners. If he knows all, we won’t escape his wrath without help. That help comes from Jesus, our high priest in heaven.

Hebrews 7:25 tells us that Jesus “is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (NIV)

When we sin, our resurrected Lord pleads our case. I paid the price, Father. Have mercy on him! And the Father listens to his once-dead-but-now-living Son. The Father has mercy. He relents.

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:8-14, NIV)
Jesus himself told us that we had to come to the Father through him. Remember these words he spoke? I’m sure they’ll be familiar to at least a few of you. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)

Pretty clear, huh? Jesus is the way to the Father. There is no other. He is the truth. Others claim to save, but can’t. He is the life. We are dead in sin without him.

And how do we come to the Father through Jesus so that we can be saved? Paul chimes in here. “…because of his great love for us,” the apostle writes, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9, NIV)

So if we are saved by grace through faith, it makes sense to do what the writer of Hebrews says – to hold firmly to the faith we profess.

I sometimes, on my knees, say to God, “I cannot save myself. I’m not good enough. I put my faith in your Son Jesus. If he does not save me, I am without hope.”

Do you ever pray like that, acknowledging your complete dependence upon grace? If you don’t, I encourage you to do so. It will bolster your faith. It will correct your view of yourself and your own righteousness. There is no righteousness that saves except that which we are given when we believe.

Romans 3:20-24, “…no one will be declared righteous in [God’s] sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Second action: approach the throne of grace with confidence.

You see that there in verse 16 don’t you? Plain as day it says it. Approach the throne of grace, God’s throne, with confidence. Without fear we come into God’s presence. How can we do that? God is holy and we are not. He is our judge.

Yes, but haven’t you been listening? Jesus gives us his righteousness so we can come to the Father. We can come boldly before God because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We need not be timid. Jesus is alive and interceding for us. We will, this verse says it, find mercy and grace in our time of need.

And when do we not need mercy? When do we not need grace? I need both every day! I get both every time I ask! God is faithful.

What about you? Do you confidently approach God and find mercy? Grace is yours for the asking. If you’re a believer, you can receive help from God every day for every need. If you’re not, you can receive salvation by faith and begin a relationship with God today. It is by grace you are saved!

Do you need grace now? Ask for it. Approach the throne of grace with confidence. Know that God loves to give mercy and grace.

Jesus spoke these words of instruction and promise to his followers. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)

Our living Lord awaits your heart’s cry. Ask him now as we close for what you need. Hold fast to the faith you profess and find mercy.

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