Summary: How do we enter the presence of God in boldness? The Hebrew writer discusses three ways of doing so.
EXPERIENCING BOLDNESS IN WORSHIP
I have been in a variety of worship settings over the year – very often the leaders would tell you that is “the” way to worship. I have attended charismatic services where everyone is instructed to stand and raise their hands and speak to the Lord. There is a murmur of chanting in the room, but I had the sense it was a ritual they were going through, and that was more important t than actually coming before the Lord. I have had the same sense in very formal Catholic services as people followed the liturgy, but they seemed to be going through a form with little meaning. How do you come before the Lord when you worship?
Which of these ways of worship is proper? Is one better than the other? Or is our style of worship more proper? My answer: Both and neither.
Our text makes clear that the essence of experiencing worship is boldness. Basil King wrote a book entitled The Conquest of Fear in which he says, “Go at it boldly, and you’ll find unexpected forces closing round you and coming to your aid.”
That is the Hebrew writer’s main point in our text – “Since (he assumes) we have confidence to enter the Holy Place,” that is to come into the Lord’s presence... Hebrews 4:16 says it this way: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
The word for boldness indicates a freedom to say anything, and came to refer to fearlessness or frankness. Politically it came to refer to the democratic right of a full citizen of the Greek city-state. In the N.T., especially in Acts, it refers to the bold witness of the early church. In Ephesians 6:19 – Paul asks for prayer that he will speak with boldness. We have that kind of boldness to come before God in worship.
This boldness is in contrast to the fear of the Jews in approaching the Holy of Holies, where the high priest entered the Holy of Holies only once a year to make sacrifice for the sins of the people -- Hebrews 9:7,8. The difference between the Old and New Testaments and the basis of our boldness is the blood of Jesus. Through the blood, we have received forgiveness and cleansing for our sins and thus can approach God. The whole basis for worship is the blood of Christ; it counts for everything. He has provided us a way or an entrance to the presence of God. It is a new and living way accomplished through the sacrifice of Christ in contrast to the O.T. sacrifices.
We also have this boldness to come into God’s presence in worship because we have a great priest over the house of God.
How, then, do we enter the presence of God in boldness? The Hebrew writer discusses three ways of doing so.
EXPERIENCE BOLDNESS IN WORSHIP BY...
I. ...DRAWING NEAR IN FAITH – Vs. 22.
The writer desires us to make use of the open way and to come close to the presence of God. How do you come to God? One parent describes this conversation with his/her child: My young son asked what the highest number I had ever counted to was. I didn’t know, but I asked about his highest number. It was 5,372. “Oh,” I said. “Why did you stop there?” “Church was over.” Church is not always coming into the presence of God.
One of my disappointments with the people who work with me comes when someone has a problem they do not discuss with me, and I find out about it later, after the problem has become much greater. I try to ask people to keep me informed and to discuss things with me so I can help. Sometimes someone will not.
God feels the same toward us, so he calls for us to draw near. God has worked through Christ to open the way to him. Now he says, “Use that way.” Consider these passages of Scripture: Hebrews 13:15 calls for us to continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise. 1 Peter 2:4,5 says that as we come to him we are built into a spiritual house. Ephesians 3:12 says that through Christ we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Verse 22 contains four checkpoints to how near we have drawn to God.
Sincerity – "with a sincere heart." This means genuine, without superficiality, hypocrisy, or ulterior motive.
Fidelity – "in full assurance of faith." Literally the term means "glutted with faith." We need to come to God in full assurance that our faith saves us. He describes this in chapter 11. Abraham is the greatest example of faith.