Recently I have been reading John Bunyan’s book Prayer. He is the same author of Pilgrim’s Progress who spent 20 years confined in prison for his faith. Both books were written over 300 years ago. Bunyan spends a tremendous amount of time in the book describing what is the “throne of grace” that the Hebrews writer talks about in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and grace in our time of need.” This is a great promise for us to approach God anytime in prayer. But what is this throne of grace?
Bunyan states that the throne of grace is to be found in Jesus. He explains that all of us struggle with an evil conscience and a deep sense of our own inadequacies because we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) The only way forward for mankind is to gain “confidence” that our sins are forgiven and that we are now acceptable before God. That is what enables us to go to God with freedom and boldness.
Bunyan explains that there is “no back door,” that Jesus is “the only way, truth and life.” (John 14:6) Religion and trying to be good enough will never do. That spirit is found in the law, where there is no grace and mercy, but only condemnation. Grace and mercy are found in Christ alone, who is God’s perfect expression of love to us.
The tabernacle given to Israel by Moses in the wilderness testifies to this. If we were to go to the inner part of that tent, the “Holy of Holies,” what would greets us would be the “mercy seat” which sat above the Law which was hidden in the arc of the covenant. The only person to enter that place was the High Priest of Israel and he only could go with the shed blood of an animal and do this only once a year. The book of Hebrews makes it clear to the believer in Jesus that He now is our High Priest who entered with His only blood once and for all, that we may be forgiven and have complete access and peace with God.
What an awesome gospel to know that we can go to God anytime and anywhere. Through Christ we are now set free from sin, free from an evil conscience, and free from a deep sense of our own inadequacy. “He saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:5-6) Amen!