Three words are used in this morning's passage to describe our approach to God - fearless, confident, and bold. These three words could all be interchangeably could they not? If we are confident, we are likely fearless and a little bold. If we are fearless, it is probably because we have confidence which results in boldness. Why are all three words used to describe our approach to God? What was it the writer had in mind by emphasizing these three characteristics of approaching God - the AND emphasizes they do not stand alone, but ALL make up our approach. It doesn't say, "If you are bold, approach God" or "If you possess the confidence, come before his throne". All three play an important part in our coming before God. Let's see why.
Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. (Hebrews 4:16 AMP)
Fearlessly - no feeling of distress, apprehension, or alarm because you don't sense any sense of impending doom or judgment. In the use of this term, the writer is focusing us on the "possibilities" found in approaching God - we don't see the impossibilities when our approach is focused on the possibilities in God's grace and love.
Confidently - we have to go to the root of this term to understand the meaning here. The idea captured is that of firmly trusting and total reliance. It is not trusting or relying upon our own merit, but the merit of Christ (our High Priest) on our behalf to make the way of approach certain and secure for those who follow in his footsteps.
Boldly - the idea conveyed here is one of no hesitation, or sense of hesitation in breaking some rule of propriety. In the times the passage was penned, people knew the rules of propriety as it applied to "royalty" - you just did not approach unless you were invited. The idea here is the extended invitation - we don't have to wait for the nod of the head - the way of approach has already been opened for us.
So, this is how we approach - but why we approach is equally important. Perhaps where it is we are coming also plays an important part, as well. You see, our writer indicates we aren't just coming into God's courts - we are approaching his throne of GRACE - the throne of his unmerited (undeserved, unearned) favor. It is a throne specifically designed for our need - he sits not upon the throne of judgment, but upon the throne of GRACE - the place of need comes face-to-face with is provision. The purpose in our coming - to find mercy for our failures. Heaven knows - we have many of these!
I don't know if you realize the irony in this verse, but I don't want you to miss it. In the times of its writing, the one who approached the throne of royalty would not come empty handed. They approached with gifts of some kind, even if they were meager. Here is the irony - we approach the throne of God's grace not with our gifts, but with our failures. He is "honored" to take these failures as we approach - giving us the very thing we need to overcome these failures. Now, if this doesn't cause you take a moment of pause, it should! God's throne is not of judgment, but of favor. Our means of approach is through Christ, not in our own merit. Our offering as we approach is our failure - his favor returns help for our failure. Awesome!
Having approached, we find help - the specific help we need. His help is well-timed, specific to our need, and given in the appropriate measure which will make a failure a thing of blessing and beauty in our lives, rather than a thing of shame and guilt. Perhaps this is the intent behind the scripture which says God gives us beauty for our ashes (Is. 61:3). Ashes were used to declare one in mourning over some loss. Failure brings loss, does it not? It is like failure leaves us wearing ashes of some sort - declaring the ugliness of our failing. In the presence of God, we bring our ashes - he takes those ashes, cleans us thoroughly, and "anoints" us with freshness. There is an exchange - the thing I notice though is that we seem to come out ahead! Awesome!
In examining our passage today, I hope you will have taken one step closer to the throne room of God's grace - not fearing or dreading his judgment, but relying fully upon the way made in Christ to receive his grace as we do. If approach only in boldness, we miss the importance of the one who makes us confident in our approach (Christ) and the one who changes our focus from the impossibility of our failures into the possibilities of the freshness of God's anointing. Just sayin!