Of recent date, there have been some men who are considered by thousands to be leaders in theological scholarship, casting this superlative term in a bad light. Commenting on Hebrews 4:16, John R. Rice, quoting Bob Jones, Sr. approvingly, states, “I am not a stranger. I am at home in my heavenly family. I just pull my chair up to the table and say, ‘Pappy, please pass the biscuits,” STEPS FOR NEW CONVERTS, By John R. Rice, page 23.
When Paul says in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace” he does not mean we are to equate God with earthly fathers, who not only often look the other way when their little darlings sin, but who, also many times due to sentiment and ignorance, place approbation on the sinful actions of their children. Such a postulate as Jones and Rice puts forth impugns the holy character of God, and serves to diminish the respect children should have for their earthly parents. No true parent can be a tyrant in the home. Neither will the true parent allow his affection for his children to be abused by them. Rashness and irreverence are incongruous to the nature of filial love, and this being true in the natural realm it is all the more true regarding the believer’s relationship to his heavenly Father.
The Term “boldness” Viewed In Its Proper Light
The word “boldness” translates a Greek word which denotes freedom of speech. True liberty of speech is not to say what we please, but what we ought to say. “For so is the will of God that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God” (I Peter 2:15-16). Christ is the one Mediator and official Spokesman in the presence of God for all believers. Therefore, their every acceptable utterance unto God is channeled through Him, (Hebrews 9: 24, John 14:6, I Timothy 2:5). Thus, it is, the term “boldness” as used by Paul in our text, and in Hebrews 4:16, and Hebrews 10:19 bespeaks the liberty which believers have to approach God directly through their Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous. The term as used by Paul in the above references indicates more than liberty of approach, it also evidences the absence of restraint in the believer’s approach. The one thing that hindered the Israelite’s entrance unto God under the Mosaic economy was fear, fear that his sacrifice would be rejected by God, “They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die” (Leviticus 22:9). The difference between the entrance of an Old Testament Israelite and that of a New Testament believer is, the Israelite’s sacrifice was typical, and could not eternally stay the condemnation of sin (Hebrews 10:4). Christ is the anti-type of Israel’s sacrifice, the eternally perfect and all sufficient sacrifice, and by the virtue of His shed blood the believer has liberty void of fear to enter the presence of God. Under Judaism the Israelites were debarred or precluded from the presence of God, even the Levites which ministered in the tabernacle were strenuously shut out from the holy of holies. Only the high priest was permitted behind the veil, and that only once a year, (Exodus 30:10, Leviticus 16:34, Hebrews 9:7). The High Priest entered the holy of holies with the utmost caution, and with ultimate religious awe. Being acutely aware of his own unworthiness and knowing his sacrifice may be rejected by God gave birth to tormenting fear that held his whole essence and being under arrest. If the sacrifice was rejected it meant there was sin in the camp which was un-repented of, the consequence being, divine chastisement. The fear of rejection and divine rebuke held the people in bondage year in and year out for fifteen hundred years. But today, the believer’s High Priest is the sinless Son of God, Who has consecrated for us a “new and living way” and delivered “them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15, 10:20). In view of the foregoing, Paul says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22).
(Sovereign Grace Advocate - February, 1978)
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