Delivered By
C. C. Risenhoover
Delivered On
October 9, 2016
Central Passage
Hebrews 6:19-20
Subject
Christ - Our Savior
Attached Document
Open Document
Description

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.  He has become a high priest forever …” (Hebrews 6:19-20).

If you have any doubts about Christ being the only way of salvation…I want you to bury those doubts today.  Since the grand inexhaustible theme of the Bible is Christ…its inspired writers have enabled us to look at Jesus Christ in a variety of helpful ways…and from several different angles.  Hebrews, for example, focuses attention on Christ's priestly service.  Other Sacred Writings mention…or imply His priesthood…but nowhere else is that priesthood so fully…or so instructively…explained.  There are at least four aspects of it…and, I’m sure, many more…which my finite mind is incapable of comprehending.

One of the four with which I’m familiar is the PURPOSE of His priesthood.  Although we live in an age of unparalleled progress in many directions…few things are more obvious than the marked absence of a general improvement in social morality.  In fact, certain misguided people hail the abandonment of an absolute moral standard in favor of some type of situational ethics…or permissiveness…as a clear proof of notable progress in our society.  But, such an attitude is at variance with God's Word…and also with the testimony of history.  That’s a nice way for me to say that such an attitude is downright stupid.

The prevalence of lying, dishonesty, robbery, murder, sexual perversion and broken marriages leaves no doubt that a large proportion of modern society is no better morally than was the society of the New Testament world.  In fact, in terms of social morality…we’ve probably devolved instead of evolved.

Over the centuries it has been the same evils…or sins…that have resulted in the broken harmony of man's relationship with God.  The persistence of sin…with all the distress it causes…and with its appalling revolt against divine authority and eternal consequences…will not be forgiven in the hereafter.  Sin is not simply confined to those who are convicted of gross moral offences in criminal courts.  Their wrongdoing is symptomatic of the sin that is in every person's heart…which manifests its presence in different ways and in different degrees.

The Bible clearly teaches that all have sinned…and that each person's greatest need is reconciliation with God.  This is just as true today as when the Gospel first made known the way of reconciliation.  Human ingenuity isn’t capable of devising a means of reconciliation with God…nor can human resources provide one.  But, God…in His love and wisdom…did it.  To reconcile God and people is the great object of Christ's priesthood…and through it God offers a way in which the penitent can be forgiven and welcomed into the fellowship and service of His believing family.

A second thing with which I’m familiar is Christ’s QUALIFICATIONS for priesthood.  We begin with the fact that He’s God's choice.  That’s a given.  Scripture repeatedly declares that God Himself appointed Christ as High Priest.  And, that’s more than a little important.

A proverb tells us thatFools make a mockery of sin.”  In other words, they make light of their guilt before Almighty God.  Sin, however, is an evil of incalculable potential.  The Bible sheds considerable light upon it…but an insoluble mystery still surrounds its origin…on how greatly it offends God…and on the extent of the ruin to which it renders the guilty liable.

God alone understands sin's sinister nature and alienating power.  He clearly understands every aspect of man's plight as a sinner…so when He took the initiative in reconciliation…determined the method and chose the person to undertake the work…He laid a firm foundation for human hope.

Since Christ is God's Son…his relationship with God is unique.  Adam…created in the image of God…was God’s son…but sin made him an unworthy and banished son.  And, Hosea even called the nation of Israel God's son…but the nation only became a son through adoption when God rescued its people from Egypt and made a covenant with them.

Moses and the faithful prophets of old were Israel’s best representatives of God…but Christ’s relationship to God is one they don’t share.  Also, believers in Christ are called sons of God…but Christ alone is called the only begotten son.  Angels, too, in Scripture are sometimes called sons of God…but they are commanded to worship Christ.

The fact is that Christ Himself is God…possessing fully His Father's nature, character and power.  And, His divine son-ship gives Him an unlimited and intimate knowledge of the Father.  He shares both God’s knowledge of sin…and God’s loving desire that sinners be reconciled to Him by His Son's priesthood.

Further, Christ was a sinless human being.  To accomplish God’s purpose…Christ became God’s servant in human flesh.  When Christ was born in Bethlehem…He took man's nature…with all its essential limitations…into union with His divine nature.  As a man “He learned obedience by the things which he suffered.”

In boyhood at the carpenter's bench…and in His years of public ministry…Jesus was tempted just as we are.  And, in His ministry Jesus encountered growing opposition from envious and the prejudiced religious leaders.

And, it was because of that envy and prejudice that He was unjustly condemned and crucified.  Being obedient to God cost him unfathomable suffering before He died…even though He committed no sin.

Christ has an endless life.  Because He is God…He is immortal.  As man He died…but only in the voluntary discharge of His supreme priestly duty…which was to offer Himself as a once-for-all sacrifice for the ungodly.

Regarding authority over His life, Christ said this in John 10:18: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.”

He rose from the grave on the third day…and will never again die.  He was able to triumph over temptation, suffering and death on earth as a human being…and is now in union with His divine nature in heaven.

Christ’s purpose and qualification for priesthood are blended with His ONCE-FOR-ALL SACRIFICE of Himself.  Christ obtained salvation for those He represented by a single sacrifice.  And, we’re not left in doubt as to what his sacrifice meant.

It was certainly not for intercession alone.  The Epistle of James assures us that “…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).  No more righteous man on earth ever offered intercessory prayers to God on our behalf than the sinless Christ.  Never before was the compassionate loving kindness of God so perfectly revealed as when Christ preached the Gospel to the poor…healed the bodies of those who were afflicted…liberated their spirits…wept at their sorrow…and brought their dead to life.

The final chapter of "Hebrews" mentions doing good as a sacrifice with which God is well-pleased.  And, obviously, Christ left us a challenging example of doing good…yet neither His example…nor any imitation of it…can reconcile us to God.

Christ spoke of Himself as a prophet who came into the world to bear witness to the truth.  And…condemned by the Sanhedrin…He remained loyal to the truth He had declared…a martyr prophet sealing with blood an incomparable body of teaching.  But, neither the authoritative teaching…nor the martyr-death…nor both together…were capable of saving a single individual.

It was in Gethsemane…in anticipation of a death far more terrible than martyrdom…that the courageous Christ prayed with strong crying…accompanied by tears and bloody sweat.  What He saw ahead of Him was the guilt of the people He represented being put on his shoulders…being reckoned as His guilt…and He Himself being dealt with by God as the guilty party instead of them.  It was in willing submission to this dread experience that Hebrews 9:14 tells us, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

The eternal spirit is the Holy Spirit…who sustained Christ’s human nature.  We don’t question that the Spirit…in whose power His ministry was carried out…assisted Him in the culminating act of His mission.

At the same time…the words underlying the translation may point to Christ’s divine nature…which in itself was incapable of death…which was united to the human life that He laid down.  This gave infinite merit to His offering.

This was THE once-for-all sacrifice God required…and it was offered at Calvary.  It was there that criminals…suffering for their misdeeds…hung on either side of the Son of God.  It was there that criminals stood before Him…guilty of His unjust death.  It was there that abuse was heaped upon Him.  It was there that He uttered the cry of dereliction that told of distress far deeper than that of body or mind.  But, it was also there that we’re told in John 19:30 that He made His triumphant pronouncement, “It is finished,"…closing out His priestly work on earth.

It was at Calvary…contrary to…and unknown to the intentions of wicked people…that God in holy love provided for us reconciliation with Himself for our sins.  That reconciliation was by the sacrifice of His beloved Son.  And, the resurrection of Christ was proof that the sacrifice He made was accepted.

At His ascension…Christ began the second part of His priestly work…which consists of heavenly intercession.  He engages in this work from His throne in heaven…where as king He now has all authority in heaven and on earth.  He will continue to intercede for those who believe in Him until the end of the age.  And, since His intercession is based upon His once-for-all sacrifice…it is never unavailing.

Christ’s priesthood has purpose…He is qualified…He made a once-for-all sacrifice for us…and He obtained many and great PRIVILEGES for all believers.  And, while there are many aspects of salvation…I’m going to mention three.

First, there is the aspect of refuge in salvation.  Sinners who have not been forgiven are exposed to the wrath of God…which is directed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.  No matter whom that sinner is…apart from a change in his or her relationship with God…he or she is without hope when it comes to escaping the irrevocable condemnation of God.

If you truly want refuge…seize the hope offered.  That hope is securely grounded in Christ's priestly intercession…which guarantees protection forever from the condemnation and penalty because of sin.  It is the sole and sufficient hope of the sinner.

Second, there is the aspect of reconciliation in salvation.  Christ by His sacrifice made reconciliation on behalf of all sinners…and we’re invited to avail ourselves of it.

The Gospel is called the word of reconciliation.  It brings to people the thrilling news that God in love sent His Son to be the propitiation for their sins…and that He welcomes sinners seeking mercy as if they were righteous on the basis of what Christ has done.

But, the Gospel does more than reveal encouraging facts.  It appeals to us with a sense of urgency to act upon those facts.  2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”  And, Hebrews 4:7 continues that plea with these words: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

And, Isaiah 55:7-8 provides further insight with these words: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”

God is ready to meet your need.  He grants repentance to those who ask for it…and He also promises an everlasting covenant…assuring forgiveness, spiritual renewal and continual grace to all who return to Him and entrust themselves to Christ as Savior.

Third, there is an aspect of rest in salvation.  The writer of Hebrews devotes considerable space to the subject of rest.  Long ago God promised rest to Israel…and today the Gospel invites us to find peace and satisfaction in trusting, obeying and serving Christ.

Human life is transitory.  The world as we know it will come to an end.  But, Christ's death has secured for His servants an eternal inheritance in an enduring kingdom…where sin will no more destroy their peace…nor will death terminate their happy fellowship and service.  Refuge, reconciliation, rest now and rest eternal…all are yours if you receive Christ as your High Priest and…if you give Him whole-hearted allegiance as your King.  For as Hebrews 5:9 tells us, “…once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…”

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