by Dave Seng
The human condition cries out for mercy. Indeed, humanity is inherently aware of its fallen, sinful condition. Scripture tells us that unbelievers actively repress the truth about their own fallen states. Humanity possesses an awareness of its need for grace, redemption, forgiveness and God’s divine mercy. Yet it is important that we see ourselves in light of God’s Law and Gospel.
All of the truly great works of art and literature speak to mankind’s sense of fallenness and its need of redemption. The human predicament is shot through with spiritual impulses that point to our longing and absolute need for God’s mercy and grace.
In light of our desire for mercy, Hebrews 4:16 becomes a passage of unspeakable comfort for the Christian. In this text, the Christian is told “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 Christian justified by Christ’s imputed righteousness can now draw near to the throne of grace confidently and find help in his time of need, knowing that every good gift comes from the loving hands of the heavenly Father. Martin Luther defined grace as “the favor of God on account of Christ.” In other words, the Christian, having been given God’s favor because of Christ’s righteousness, can now approach the heavenly throne room and find help, comfort, and encouragement.
Our justification before God, then, is not a mere academic question. It is the essence of the entire Christian life and is precisely what allows us to approach almighty God, receiving help from Him in our time of need. Instead of a stern Judge, on account of Christ we find a loving Father who forever offers mercy and grace. The author of Hebrews tells us that as believers we ought to come to the throne of God, always finding a gracious, compassionate, and merciful One. We will receive forgiveness and comfort even in light of our sinfulness and weaknesses. Furthermore, we will find help suited to our present situation.
The book of Hebrews is a letter of encouragement. If you are a Christian but do not feel worthy to approach God, read Hebrews. Remember that Christ’s righteousness is now placed to your account, and that you are encouraged to enter into the enjoyment of the benefits that Christ’s work has made available.