I frequent it on a regular basis. Yet, for the last several years, there’s also been an annual trek to this place.
Six years ago events transpired in August that were life changing, and, five-and-a-half years later, would be life ending. Since 2011, August has been a significant month during this part of the journey. Not just because of the things that have happened in August, but also as a result of where my annual Bible reading plan has brought me back to, again and again.
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 ESV)
The throne of grace. My reading plan takes me there around this time every year.
It’s the place where our great High Priest resides. The One who is able to sympathize with our struggles and weakness, ready to intercede on our behalf. And where we receive mercy but find grace.
In a sense, to receive mercy before the throne is the expected part. Not the taken-for-granted part, but it’s what we know we’ll obtain because of the substitutionary, atoning sacrifice of Christ. We receive mercy–not getting what we rightly deserve it–because He stood in our place, taking upon Himself what He did not deserve. As we enter the throne room, confessing again our sin and selfishness, we know His word is true, and that He is faithful and just. Thus, we are confident that He will forgive our sins through the blood of Christ, ready to cleanse us again from all our unrighteousness. That’s mercy. We owe a debt, He has written it off because it was paid in full 2,000 years ago on a Roman cross.
So we receive mercy. We lay hold of it. We gladly take it as our own and know afresh the rest that is ours because of the work He has finished.
But while we receive mercy, we find grace.
Because grace is getting what we don’t deserve, in a sense, it’s unpredictable. While mercy deals primarily with our transgression, the application of grace is multi-faceted, and its abundance is beyond measure.
It is the basis for our justification. Being more than forgiven, by grace we have been gifted with the righteousness of Christ. Declared holy as we are covered in His holiness.
And it’s through God’s overflowing grace that He determines to adopt fallen image-bearers as sons and daughters. To have only been spared the just punishment our sin demands would be cause for eternal thanksgiving, but to be adopted as His children? To be made part of His forever family? To be considered joint heirs with Christ? What kind of unmerited favor is that?
What’s more, we find this grace is sufficient for the day, for the enduring of trials and for dealing with “thorns in the flesh.” His power manifest through our weakness. His presence experienced when we think we’re on our own. His provision available in our time of need.
We don’t know exactly what we’ll find when we enter His throne room. We can’t predict in what manner His grace will be manifest–it could be in the calming of the storm, or the endurance to sojourn through it as it rages. But what we can know is that we will find grace to help in time of need.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace . . .
To Him be all praise and glory.