The Throne of Grace, Life-Study of Hebrews, Message Twenty-Seven, pp. 298-302
I. THE THRONE OF GOD,
SIGNIFIED BY THE PROPITIATION COVER
After the unveiling of our High Priest, the writer encourages us to "come forward with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace for timely help." (4:16) The throne of grace is undoubtedly the throne of God which is in heaven (Rev. 4:2). The throne of God is the throne of authority to all the universe (Dan. 7:9; Rev. 5:1) on which God sits to control and rule over the universe. It is the throne of God's administration. But to us, the believers, it is the throne of grace, signified by the propitiation cover (the mercy seat) over the ark of testimony (Exo. 25:17-21; Rom. 3:25) in the Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:3, 5) sprinkled with the blood of Christ (Lev. 16:15; Heb. 9:12). It is here that God meets and communes with His people (Exo. 25:21-22). When we come to the throne of grace through the blood of Christ, we meet with God and commune with Him.
II. THE THRONE OF GOD AND THE LAMB
The throne of grace in Hebrews 4 is the throne of authority in Revelation 4 which becomes in Revelation 22:1 and 2 the throne of God and of the Lamb, out of which proceeds the crystal clear river of water of life. This river flows through the whole city of New Jerusalem. Within this river grows the tree of life, revealing that the rich Christ with the living Spirit flows out of the throne of grace. What is grace? It is the flowing river in which the tree of life grows. To the unbelievers and to the demons, the throne of God and of the Lamb is a throne of authority; to us, it is the throne of grace. Whenever we come to this throne, we have the sense that something is flowing to water and supply us. This is grace. We can surely drink and eat of this supply.
III. GOD'S HABITATION IN OUR SPIRIT
Hebrews 4:16 tells us to "come forward with boldness to the throne of grace." Since the throne of grace is in the heavens, how can we come forward to it? According to fundamental teaching, we must wait until we die and go to heaven. But how can we come forward to it while we are still on earth? The secret is in verse 12 of the same chapter which speaks of the dividing of the soul and spirit by the living and operative word of God. As we have seen, the very Christ who is sitting on the throne of grace in heaven (Rom. 8:34) is also now in us (Rom. 8:10), that is, in our spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), where the habitation of God is (Eph. 2:22—"through the Spirit" should be rendered "in spirit"). As Christ is in our spirit, both the Father and the Spirit are also in our spirit (John 14:20, 23; Rom. 8:16). The Triune God is here in our spirit. At Bethel, the house of God, the habitation of God, which is the gate of heaven, Christ is the ladder who joins earth to heaven and brings heaven to earth (Gen. 28:12-17; John 1:51). Although the throne of grace is in the heavens, our wonderful Christ has brought the third heaven into our spirit, the very place where God's habitation on earth is today. Our spirit may be called today's Bethel. According to Genesis 28, Bethel is firstly a place and secondly God's habitation. Both the place and the stone were called Bethel. According to principle, where God's habitation is, there is the heavenly ladder and the gate of heaven. Christ, the wonderful One who came to us from God, who has accomplished and attained so much, and who is our Captain, Apostle, and High Priest, has come into our spirit, making it the gate of heaven. Now it is easy for us to come forward to the throne of grace, for it is right within the gate. While the throne of grace is in the heavens, by and through Christ it has been joined to our spirit.
Coming forward to the throne of grace is absolutely a matter in our spirit. If we are in the mind, it will be difficult for us to enter into the Holy of Holies. If we are a soulish person staggering in the wilderness of our soul, we shall be far away from the Holy of Holies. Since our spirit is the place of God's habitation today, it is the gate of heaven where Christ is the ladder that joins us, the people on earth, to heaven, and brings heaven to us. Whenever we turn to our spirit, we enter into the gate of heaven and touch the throne of grace in heaven through Christ as the heavenly ladder. For this, we need the living word of God to pierce into the depths of our being and separate our spirit from our wandering mind. As long as we are in our spirit, we have the gate of heaven. Within the gate is the throne of grace. It takes no time whatever to enter into the Holy of Holies, because there is no distance between it and our spirit. Whenever we say from the depths of our being, "O Lord Jesus," we are immediately in the Holy of Holies, touching the throne of grace. How we need to touch the throne of grace!
IV. RECEIVING MERCY AND FINDING GRACE
When we come forward to the throne of grace, we "receive mercy and find grace for timely help." Both God's mercy and His grace are the expression of His love. When we are in a pitiful condition, firstly His mercy reaches us and brings us into a state where God is able to favor us with His grace. Luke 15:20-24 says that when the father saw the prodigal son returning, he had compassion on him. This is mercy, expressing the father's love. Then the father clothed him with the best robe and fed him with the fatted calf. This is grace, which also manifests the father's love. God's mercy reaches farther than His grace, bridging the gap between us and God's grace. Often, because of our pitiful condition, we must receive mercy before we can find grace. We come to the throne of grace like beggars, in somewhat the same way as the prodigal son came to his father. A beggar, like the prodigal, needs mercy. When we are in a poor condition and someone gives us something, that is mercy. But when we are in a qualified condition and someone gives us something, that is grace. Many times when we have come to the throne of grace we have had the sense that we were pitiful and said, "Father, I am not worthy of anything." But the Father said, "That doesn't matter. You are unworthy, but I am merciful. My mercy reaches you, qualifies you, and adorns you. It clothes you with the best robe." After receiving the Father's mercy, we soon feel like a very important person. Then we are qualified to sit down and enjoy the fatted calf. This is grace. This is not merely a doctrine but something which has been confirmed by our experience.
Who is on the throne of grace? Not only God but also the Lamb, the Redeemer. On the wonderful throne of grace, God is sitting, and at His right hand is the Redeemer, our High Priest. That the throne is not only the throne of God but the throne of God and of the Lamb means that God in the Lamb is flowing Himself out as grace for our enjoyment. We need not do anything. We simply need to come forward, open up, and receive mercy and find grace for timely help. Every day the help which comes from this grace is very timely; it is always new and exactly fits our situation and need. The real Christian life according to Hebrews is a life which not only comes forward to the throne of grace but which also abides in the Holy of Holies in front of the throne, continually receiving mercy and finding grace. This is the life we need today. If, by the Lord's mercy, these crucial points are wrought into us, we will never be the same.
God's mercy and grace are always available to us. However, we need to receive and find them by exercising our spirit to come forward to the throne of grace and touch our High Priest who sympathizes with us in all our weaknesses. By this word, the writer of Hebrews encouraged the wearied Hebrew believers to receive mercy and find grace for timely help that they might be set upright (12:12).