Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SAVED TO THE UTTERMOST (Hebrews Chapter 7)

Hebrews 7:25, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

The context of this verse has to do with the superiority of Jesus over the “former priests” (Cf. Hebrews 7:23)—the overall context of this section of the book (Cf. Hebrews 4:14-7:28).  There were many of the former priests because they were prevented by death from continuing in office.  By way of contrast Jesus holds his priesthood permanently.  He continues forever (Cf. Hebrews 7:3; 13:8).

There is also, in this context, a glorious description of Jesus in His high priestly role.  He is “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26).  In each of these virtues He was distinctly superior to his former counterparts.  These characteristics likewise set Him apart from every other man and every other religious leader that has ever lived.

He is “holy.”  The term has reference to that which is “’religiously right, holy,’ as opposed to what is unrighteous or polluted” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary).  Jesus is perfectly righteous of character and righteous in all of HIs ways.  He is “innocent.”  He “knew no sin” and “committed no son” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22).  He never thought a sinful thought, never did a sinful deed, and never uttered a sinful word.  He is “unstained.”  He walked amongst sinners, but remained unstained by sin.  He was “in every respect…tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).  He is “separated from sinners” J. Vernon McGee commented on this: “He is like us, yet unlike us.  He could mix and mingle with sinners, and they didn’t feel uncomfortable in HIs presence, but He was not one of them.  His enemies accused Him of associating with publicans and sinners.  He sure did, yet He wasn’t one of them.  He was separated from sinners.”  He is “exalted above the heavens.”  The former priests were privileged once a year to enter into the holy of holies, but Jesus has “passed through the heavens” (Hebrews 4:14).  The Risen Savior abides in heaven even now and “lives to make intercession” for those who draw near to God through Him (Cf. Hebrews 7:25).

What a Savior!  It is He alone who is “able to save to the uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25).  The term translated “uttermost” means either “forever” or “completely” (the Greek term used can mean both).  The context tends towards the “forever” interpretation of the term, but the “complete” aspect of His salvation is both implied here and elsewhere spoken of.  The salvation provisioned by God through Christ to the believer is no half-hearted salvation.  In every respect salvation has to do primarily with salvation from sin.  It includes three aspects—justification, sanctification, and glorification.  There is justification (i.e. salvation from the penalty of sin).  The repeated sacrifices of the former priests were of limited value (Cf. Hebrews 9:13).  By His “once for all” sacrifice, Christ has worked to secure an internal and eternal cleansing from sin (Cf. Hebrews 9:12, 14).  There is sanctification (i.e. freedom from the practice of sin).  By His sacrifice the believer is cleansed of conscience “from dead works to serve the living God” (Cf. Hebrews 9:14).  There is glorification (i.e. freedom from the presence of sin).  The work of salvation is a miraculous thing.  Something that man could never hope to devise or accomplish.  We all need a Savior, and in Jesus we have One who is preeminently qualified and able (Cf. Hebrews 7:25). 

He is able to save to the uttermost!  J. C. Ryle concluded a sermon on this text with the following invitation: “I would offer counsel, first, to all who are anxious and troubled respecting their soul's salvation, and yet know not what to do.  Reader, if you are such a person, I charge you and entreat you, I beseech you and invite you, to come into the way of which I have been speaking in this tract.  I beseech you to come to God by the old and tried way,--the way of faith in Jesus Christ.  Draw near to God, pleading the name of Jesus.  Begin this very day to cry mightily unto God, in the name of Jesus, on behalf of your soul.  Say not you have anything to plead for yourself.  You have nothing to plead.  Your life, your thoughts, your ways, all alike condemn you.  Say nothing about yourself but this,--that you are a sinner, a great sinner, a guilty sinner, a condemned sinner; but because you are a sinner, you turn to God.  Come unto Him in the name of Jesus, saying, you have heard that through Jesus a sinner may come near Him.  Tell Him that you are a sinner, a great sinner, and an unworthy one.  But tell Him that you come in the faith of His promises, in the confidence of His own Bible invitation; and in the name of Jesus, and for the sake of Jesus, and on account of Jesus, you ask to be received, heard, pardoned, forgiven, and accepted.  Tell Him that you wish to have your name--even that name of yours, connected hitherto with worldliness, thoughtlessness, carelessness, and sin added to the list of God's dear children….”

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