By James White
Preached on March 5, 1870

Text: "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Heb. 4:16

It is our privilege to come to a throne of grace. And we may approach this throne with boldness. It is a throne of grace. It is where mercy is dispensed. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace."

It is a throne of mercy and of grace, that sinners may approach – to find justice? No, to find grace, to find pardon, to find mercy. Do we go there to obtain our pay for what we have done? No, indeed. After we have done all that we can do, we are but unprofitable servants. We are invited to come where we may find grace, not pay. It is our privilege to find mercy and grace.

Another point of interest in the text is, that we may find grace to help in time of need; or help when we need help, and mercy and grace when we are in greatest need. What a privilege!

But how does this chapter open? "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." The apostle refers to the children of Israel, who had the gospel preached to them, but it did not profit them, because not mixed with faith in them that heard it. They fell because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear. Now fear is an element of our nature. It is right that we should have fear. It is safest in times of danger that our fears should be excited. We are even exhorted to have fear. Fear of what? We should not fear that the Lord will not hear us when we pray. No, we should not; for we are invited to approach the throne of grace, even with boldness. His ear is always open. We should not fear that the Lord is unable to save. He is able to save to the uttermost.

The experience, shall I say? of our Lord Jesus Christ here in this world shows the strength of God, and the powers there are in reserve to save the children of men, who walk before him with fear. Christ took upon himself our nature, lived our example, passed under the power of the temptations of Satan, which he endured, and obtained the victory over the powers of darkness. He was mocked in the judgment hall, and condemned. The nails were driven through his hands and feet. Heaven sustained him all the while. He died on the cross. He was placed in a new sepulcher, a heavy stone was rolled against the door, and a seal placed upon it.

All that men and devils could do was done to make the thing sure; to test the power of God. But on the morning of the first day of the week, one angel comes down, clothed with power. He rolls away the stone and takes his seat upon it. Another angel enters the sepulcher and unbinds the napkin; and then the voice is heard, bidding the Son of God to come forth. And he rose from the dead, triumphant over death and the powers of the grave. And finally, he is taken up to the throne of God, where he lives ever to be our intercessor and compassionate priest. We have this evidence, Christian friends, in the manifestation of the power of God in the history of Jesus Christ, eighteen centuries ago, that there is power to save sinners, to save to the uttermost. Then do not fear in this direction.

But let us fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, we should come short of it. We need not fear that there is not in reserve sufficient power to save us. The blood of the divine sacrifice is sufficient, if we will avail ourselves of its merits, to remove all sin from us. Yes, he that could raise his Son from the dead has power in reserve to raise all the blood washed throng, though they may have passed under the dominion of death. We have no need to fear in this direction.

We need not fear on the ground that there is any lack of love in Heaven for sinners. If God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? In other words, after bestowing the greatest gift that Heaven could give, will he withhold the lesser ones? No. In the gift of the Son of God, we have a pledge of the unbounded love of God toward sinners. There is no lack of love on the part of our gracious God, therefore, there is no ground of fear in that respect.

But yet it is right to fear. There is no sin in fear in the proper way. Then it is right, and a virtue. In the wrong way, fear is classed with crimes. "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable," &c., will go into the lake of fire. When we have so many evidences of the power of God and the love of God to save us, to fear that we shall not be saved, for want of the love and power of God to save sinners, is a damning sin. The fearful, who cannot trust our great and mighty God, that fear that doubts his love, his care, his power, dare not trust soul, body, property, reputation, and all, in his hand, will go with the unbelieving and the abominable into the lake of fire. It is a damning sin to fear in this way; yet we should fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should come short of it.

It is right to fear, lest we shall fail to do our duty. There is virtue in that kind of fear. It is right to watch ourselves with very jealous care, and with great fear, lest we offend with our tongue. Oh, that unruly member! Fearless, careless talk! That terrible sin among men! It is like a desolating hail, or an uncontrollable fire! We should fear lest our words shall be wrong; lest we have a bad influence over others; lest our words shall have a bad influence over ourselves. Do not let your own ears hear corrupt words, low words, angry words, vain words. Fear lest your own words, sounding in your own ears, corrupt your own heart; and fear lest your words corrupt others.

Oh! how much gossip, and clack, and gabble, and talk, there is in the world about little or nothing! There is more hurt done in talking, even among professors of religion, than in almost any thing else. Take the Bible, friends, and fear to violate what God has said in reference to your tongue and talk. Just take it home and try to live it out. Let us fear unbelief, a doubting heart, and a corrupt mind.

"Let us," says the apostle, "lay aside every weight, and the isn which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." And Paul goes right on through the chapter and bring up numerous examples of faith. Read the 11th and 12th of Hebrews, and you will agree with me that what Paul calls the sin that doth so easily best is the sin of unbelief.

I have heard ministers say that one person has one besetting sin, and another has another besetting sin. One person has this failing, which is his easily besetting sin; another has that fault, which is his besetting sin. But this is not according to the doctrine set forth here by the apostle. Have you a bad tongue? That is one of the weights to which he refers. It is like a millstone hung around your neck. Have you a bad temper? It is like a blacksmith’s anvil hung about you to impede your progress. Have you an avaricious spirit? That is another weight. And so I might go on. We may have different and many weights. But the sin that easily besets all is unbelief.

Paul contrasts it with noble characters of faith, such as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, &c. We are all beset easily with the sin of unbelief. Now let us fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of us should seem to come short of it. Let me read on and prove my point; "For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them; but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." You see they were troubled with unbelief. This was their sin. Now let us fear lest a promise being left us, we should come short of it. And then Paul refers back immediately to the unbelief of the children of Israel as an example. What, then, is the fear/ What does Paul immediately bring up to illustrate his subject? Why, it is doubting Israel. They fell through unbelief. Let us fear, lest unbelief gather around us, also, and sink us in perdition.

There are those who consider themselves extremely wise, careful, and cautious; and when any point come sup they pride themselves on studying it over very profoundly; and they will say, very knowingly, I do not embrace a point till I have examined it on all sides, and studied it well. But are such persons always as profound in wisdom as they imagine they are? and in coming to right conclusions? and making right decisions? No, they are sometimes profound doubters.

Thomas was one of these. He said he would not believe unless he should see in Jesus' hands the prints of the nails, and put his finger into the prints of the nails, and thrust his hand into his side. And what did the Lord say to this very cautious doubter? Did he commend his course? Did he say, That is right, Thomas? you should not believe as long as you can help it? wait until you are compelled by evidence to believe? No! no! But he did say, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." What a cutting, yet mild, rebuke our Lord gave Thomas on this occasion. He did not directly and harshly rebuke him, although he had let the devil fill him with doubts. Now let us fear, lest a promise being left to us, we, through unbelief, should come short of the promised blessing, as did the children of Israel.

Some men say that they will not believe anything till every objection is removed, and every point cleared up. But I will believe wherever I see the weight of evidence. Just give me the weight of evidence, and I am there. Judges, justices, and courts, have to decide questions upon the weight of evidence, and why not we? I dare not wait till every objection is answered, and every difficulty is taken out of the way. It is a fearful thing to stand back mulishly until every possible chance to doubt is removed. Show me the weight of evidence, evidence from the Bible, from experience, from the influence of the Spirit of God, and I think I am always safest on that side. When I take a position like that, as it usually involves some self denial and cross-bearing, I believe I meet the approbation of my Lord. I may expect then to meet the blessing of God, sufficient to see all things clearly.

We may fear, dear brethren and friends, lest our love of the world shall overcome us. We may fear that we are not keeping the body under, not controlling the tongue, and keeping the passions in subjection as we should. We may fear in regard to ourselves. We may fear our inability to stand, but never, never fear in regard to the ability of the Lord to save us. And while we may cast ourselves, as it were, into the dust, and our cry may be, Unworthy! at the same time we may sing, "Worthy, worthy is the Lamb." While our confidence in ourselves is growing weaker, and we are seeing that we are dependent upon God for everything, our confidence in the Lord may grow stronger and stronger every day.

I am struck with the wisdom that I find in the blessed book of God, especially in this chapter that I have read to you. Follow me, watch me closely, and see if you can see that beauty in it that I see. The chapter opens with this exhortation, Fear, and tremble, and watch yourselves carefully. Do not have so much confidence in yourselves. Now, dear friends, fear in this direction is a virtue. You may fear and tremble as to yourselves. But do you know that the devil is always ready to take advantage of our very best qualifications and efforts, and use them to his own ends? Take, for instance, the accomplishment of singing. What a blessing is talent and voice and taste for singing! And how, with a sanctified use of it, you may glorify God! But the devil has almost entire control of nearly every good singer. And there are more souls sung to hell, than are prayed to Heaven.

So with fear. It is right to have the proper kind of fear. It is a virtue. But the devil will come right in, unless you are careful, and work upon your conscientiousness to drive you to doubts, and to darkness, and to despair. There is no reason for this. You have a sufficient pledge, in the power of God in raising Jesus Christ from the dead, that God is able to save you. You have a pledge of his love in that he condescended to give Christ to die for you. It is, therefore, sin to throw away your shield of faith, and to doubt, under these circumstances.

"Let us fear," says Paul. But in order to help that feeble-minded one; and lest you should cast away your shield of faith, and sink in despair, the apostle states in this very chapter, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession." Hundreds and thousands of Christians have suffered the devil to throw this fear and trembling over them, to pervert this wholesome quality of proper fear which all should have, and so drive them to doubt and despair, and to lay down their profession. Just hear them talk out their cruel doubts:

"There, I am so unworthy, and have so little faith, it is no use to pray any more. I cannot bear my testimony in meeting, and it is of no use to make any further efforts."

And under these feelings they lay aside their profession. But listen to the apostle: "Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the Heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold fast our profession." Do not let the devil drive you to despair. We have a great High Priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He was in all points tempted like as we are, and yet without sin. He is willing and mighty save. Trembling, desponding ones, Look up! Do you say that you are all unworthiness? I respond, Amen! You are. You may just as well set that down for a fact. But Jesus is worthy. He is able. He is willing and ready to save. Then look up, look up. He is your mediator. He is your intercessor with the Father. He has been touched with the feeling of all your infirmities, and woes, and sorrows, and weaknesses, and he knows just how to help you.

You have, it is true, sinned against God. You may be an unpardoned sinner in his sight. But think what a glorious link still unites you to that God of justice whom you have offended. Jesus, who has been touched with the feeling of your woes, is your advocate. And of all the beings in the universe, no one has that influence, to use a common term, with the God of Heaven as his obedient victorious Son. It is the dearly beloved Son that still links you to the great Law-giver, and he is your best friend. He loved you so well as to die for you. He has tasted all your woes. He knows all about you. And it is he whom the Father loves; and the pleading of that Son will move the arm of the Father.

He is mighty. We will love him. With one arm he has hold of the Father, and with the other he reaches down to poor sinners. Under these circumstances you should not tremble and doubt, and fear to trust in his grace. No, never.

The apostle opens this chapter by exciting our fears, by stirring our apprehension to its depths. He would well night throw us into despair. And if any of us feel this morning almost in despair as we read this chapter, God be thanked for it. Let us have fear, watch ourselves with jealous fear, lest we be inspired by the devil to sin against so good a God. And while we fear, here is comforting language – not for the religious bigot; not for the self-righteous hypocrite; not for the man who feels that he has a great amount of righteousness in store, so that if the books in Heaven should be balanced, he would have a considerable balance coming to him. Paul has no comfort for such men. But he has comfort for the man who fears lest his tongue shall carry him into bondage, lest his hands and his feet shall lead him astray. Here is comfort for such, for the Son of God knows how to sympathize with such. He has one hand laid upon the Father. And no being in the universe has so much influence with the great God as his divine Son. And he, with the other hand, has hold of just such sinful beings as we are. With such facts before us, it is a sin to doubt. We believe. Yes, there is all the reason in the world why we should believe; "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."

What a stoop on the part of the divine Son of God to come down and take our nature so that he could enter into all our woes, weaknesses, and sorrows. Just think how the devil takes him up to the pinnacle of the temple. So we sometimes get on to some earthly pinnacle. Not as our Lord; for the devil carried him there. But we become exalted, and lifted up with pride. But see the Lord there while the devil presents before him all the kingdoms of the world, and says, Just fall down and worship me, and all shall be yours. Christ resisted this temptation of the gift of all the world. But how many are willing to sell themselves to the devil for but a little gain.

Again Jesus was carried into the wilderness, and suffered hunger. The devil tempted Eve upon the point of appetite. Jesus, that he might be a merciful high priest, as he undertook to cure the terrible malady of sin, is carried into the wilderness, and fasts forty days. And as he hungered, the devil brought the temptation of appetite to bear upon him. But he overcame. The devil caused the representatives of the race to fall on appetite. By this means he has held control over almost all the race ever since.

Look at that drunkard, bound to his cups, a slave of appetite. So with the tea-drinker, the tobacco-user, the glutton. They are slaves to appetite. The world is given up to appetite. If the popular churches of the day wish to raise money for any purpose, they do it through the indulgence of the appetite. A strawberry festival, an ice-cream entertainment, an oyster supper, or something of the kind is the means by which the liberalities of the people are drawn out.

But our Lord was carried into the wilderness, in order to be prepared to cure the maladies of our fallen natures. He fasted forty days. Oh! my dear friends, there is something in this subject that seems to carry me out of myself, entirely, as I view it in its importance. What reasons there are for us to watch ourselves with jealous fear, and what reasons there are to have confidence in God.

But, says one, I have sinned, and transgressed, and pierced his wounds afresh. How can I have confidence? We reply, He came to save just such as you are. "Then came Peter to him and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven." And I do not know why the Lord will not forgive the truly repenting soul as often as he would have us forgive the erring. Now do not be discouraged, friends, though you have tried and failed, and again and again, and failed every time. When you have fallen seventh times seven times, we may have to give you up as hopeless cases.

But is there a person in this congregation who has never sinned? If so, all I have to say is, The Lord never dies for you, and it is a pity you could not be at once translated as were Enoch and Elijah. But he came to save sinners, and that is why he took such an infinite stoop. That is his mission. That is his work. And the Lord, who never sinned, takes the soul all polluted, all covered with sin, and purifies, and exalts, and makes it white; and this is his glory. If there is in the congregation a person that is a sinner above others, my word of comfort to you is to come and let Jesus wash you from all your sins, and fit you for Heaven.

Now the conclusion from all this is found in the words of the text: "Let us therefore come boldly to a throne of grace." You need not come fearing and trembling. In the name of Jesus you may come boldly. Those whom he forgives most he loves most. Those that have been the greatest sinners, and come along with repentance, will find pardon proportionate to their sins. The blessings will be proportionate to the wrongs committed. Are you a great sinner? Then a great repentance is called for, then a great pardon and a great blessing will be bestowed.

Let us come boldly to a throne of grace. We must not carelessly come, no pompously, not presumptuously. People sometimes pray as though God was greatly indebted to them, as though they had done a great deal for the Lord. Lord, bless me; I have done so much for thee. This is not a holy boldness. The boldness is all in consequence of the character of our Mediator. There is no one reason in yourselves why you should have asked him to forgive you sins; but the reasons are all in Jesus Christ. You have a High Priest that can be touched with a feeling of all your infirmities. That is hwy you may approach a throne of grace with boldness. Have you sinned? Come boldly to the throne of grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Grace to help in time of need! There are a great many professors of religion, who, when they are not in special need, when they do not feel that they have especial wants, will grow careless about offering up their petitions to God for help. But when they are brought into straitened places, into states of anxiety and distress, then they will pray. I might illustrate this by what I witnessed on a steamer on my way from Portland, Maine, to Boston, Massachusetts. A storm was rising, and the sea was rough. I remarked to the captain that it was getting rather rough. "Yes," said he, "but we still try to iron it down" – a sailor phrase to quiet the fears of the passengers. But he knew there was danger. I went down to see how Mrs. W. Was getting along. I remarked upon the roughness of the sea. "Yes," she said, "But God will protect us." Pretty soon the chandelier came down with a crash, causing a shriek through the whole crowd. By-and-by the furniture began to tumble about, and the steward began to hold on to the dishes to keep them from being dashed in pieces.

Previous to this time, we had noticed a very wild, rough girl on board. She had been light and reckless in her talk; but, as the storm increased, she began to cry for mercy. She went to my wife, and asked her if she was not afraid. "No," said my wife, "if my work is done, I would just as soon go to the bottom here as any way; but I have no fears; I do not believe my work is done." And so the frightened girl went from one to another expressing her fears, and wringing her hands in great distress. The next morning the storm abated; and when we reached the harbor, she was as light and thoughtless and frivolous as ever. And as she sprang to land, she exclaimed, "There, glory to God, I am safe now." This she said in trifling mockery of her own fears.

This may be an extreme case, but it illustrates a general rule. People will not pray till there is danger; and when the danger is over, they are as thoughtless as ever. This is a wrong rule. Let us go to find grace for a time of need. You may need especial grace in a week from this. These ministers present may be brought into straits from the opposition of opponents, where they will need help. Now, do not put off praying for grace till that time comes; but pray for it now. Let your prayers go up, even if you do not need especial endowments of grace just at this time. Send every prayer into Heaven you can; and, depend upon it, when the trying hour comes, then the needed help will come.

I do not know that in all my experience I ever witnessed anything which affords a better illustration of my views, than an incident which occurred a year ago last summer. Bro. Andrews and myself were together. We went from General Conference to Greenville, very feeble, and in discouragement. We asked each other, What shall be done for the cause? Bro. A. and myself walked from wood to wood, and from place to place, meditating and deliberating upon this question, and praying for strength and help. I was very feeble, many a time having hardly physical strength to support myself. And I did not realize then that God especially blessed us. Finally, we decided to appoint the Wright Camp-meeting. I came to Battle Creek, then spent one Sabbath at Monterey, and so on to the camp-meeting. And there we witnessed the especial blessing and power of God. There are those here who will testify that God blessed us in that meeting. Such power I hardly ever witnessed in my life. God was then answering our prayers, which we had put up to him for weeks before. And the answer came just when we needed it.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. "Why," says one, "I have been praying for God's blessing now for a week, and he has not answered one of my prayers." But how do you know but he has accepted all these prayers, and in due time the blessing will come, just when you most need it?

"Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace." A throne supposes a kingdom. Then is there not a kingdom of grace? My mind is settling here. If there is a throne of grace, there is a kingdom of grace. I lament that Adventists have labored so hard, so tenaciously, to maintain the idea that the Scriptures, speaking of the kingdom of God and kingdom of Heaven, always, in some way or other, or in some sense or other, refer to the future kingdom of God. It has given our opponents an advantage which they have no business with. I certainly am looking for a future everlasting kingdom of God – the fifth kingdom of glory and of God, to be set up after all earthly kingdoms shall be destroyed, when the New Jerusalem, the metropolis of the fifth kingdom, shall come down from God out of Heaven, and the kingdom and dominion under the whole heaven shall be given to the saints of the Most High. When you pray, "Thy kingdom come," you are praying for that kingdom. And when James says, "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world . . . heirs of the kingdom," he refers to that kingdom. "Then shall the righteous shine forth in the kingdom of their Father." But it is against us to undertake to apply all the expressions in reference to the kingdom, to the future kingdom.

I now repeat that which I have spoken here before. There are two arrangements in reference to the people of God, to which the expressions, kingdom of God, and kingdom of Heaven, are applied. Sometimes it refers to one of these arrangements, sometimes to the other. These two relations of God and Christ to his people, I shall call, respectively, the kingdom of grace, and the kingdom of glory. The kingdom of grace exists now. The kingdom of glory is future.

But by no means do I take the position that the kingdom of grace was set up at the first advent of Christ. In no sense whatsoever was the kingdom set up then. I submit that there is a kingdom of grace, and hence there is a throne of grace to which we may come boldly. But when was that kingdom set up? I carry it back to the time when grace was first offered to sinful man. Adam and Abel were in the kingdom of grace as fully as the apostles. Daniel could approach a throne of grace, as well as we here to-day. But time will not allow me to say all that I might wish to say on this subject. I will read, however, a few verses from the first chapter of Colossians: "For this cause," says Paul, verse 9, "we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will." "If any man do his will," says Christ, "he shall know of the doctrine." Paul continues, "In all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Oh! that we were there to-day! "That ye might walk worth of the Lord, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work." Oh, that there was with us an undying desire to be fruitful in every good work! "And increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son."

Here is an expression which I believe applies to Christian experience. Here is a deliverance from the powers of darkness. This has nothing to do with the resurrection of the dead. It is a deliverance which every Christian may realize here; and this deliverance is a part of their Christian experience.

Being translated into the kingdom of his dear Son. Here is a work, too, of Christian experience, to be translated into the kingdom of grace. Many are under the powers of darkness, yielding to the powers of an unsanctified heart. We may be delivered from all this, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son.

But the next point. Paul continues: "In whom we have redemption." There, says one, that is future. Are you sure of it? There are two redemptions; one from sin or a moral redemption; then there is a physical redemption from the dead by the resurrection. But Paul speaks of a redemption from sin. "In whom we have redemption through his blood,even the forgiveness of sin." That is enough. It all terminates in the complete forgiveness of sins. And John, then, upon the isle of Patmos, could say, "I am your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." He was there in exile, as a criminal, for doing right. His banishment only removed him a little nearer God. In tribulation? Yes. And in the kingdom, receiving the blessings of the kingdom of grace in the highest sense while there in the isle of Patmos.

This theme is glorious, but I will not introduce more testimony now. Let me exhort you to seek for that fullness, that richness of experience which is represented here by Paul to the COlossians, when he speaks of our being "filled with the knowledge of his will, in all spiritual understanding, unto all pleasing, fruitful in every good work." Amen.