Jesus is Able to Save

by LA UBF   03/08/2008     0 reads




Hebrews 6:13-7:28

Key Verse 7:25

"Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." 

In today's passage we learn about Jesus' priesthood. The priesthood is the model, or means, by which God saves people from their sin, and brings them to himself. After talking about Jesus' priesthood, the author reached one conclusion, "Jesus is able to save completely those who come to God through him." This was the only conclusion one could come to. 

The word "completely" means, "to the uttermost," or, "to the full extent," or, "forever." To conclude that Jesus is able to save completely is to find the final and perfect answer to all of our needs to come to God and live as his children today. It also comes as a challenge to wake up spiritually and live diligent lives of faith. One of our main weaknesses is doubt. God's salvation and blessing sound too unbelievable to us. We may not believe Jesus is able to save completely, so we don't think about it.

But God wants us to believe him with absolute certainty and come to God through Jesus. May God help us to know Jesus our high priest more deeply, and be completely assured of our complete salvation when we come to him. 

Part I. God's Oath - An Anchor for the Soul (6:13-20)

In these verses the author gives us the example of Abraham, a person who received promises that sounded too unbelievable, yet believed and inherited what was promised. 

Look at verses 13-15. "13When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14saying, "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." 15And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised." When God made his promise to Abraham he swore to it. Why did God swear to Abraham? Well, why do people swear? Verse 16 points out that people swear to confirm promises and put an end to all argument. An oath is a confirmation that the promise made is good. The person swearing swears by something greater as collateral to show he's telling the truth. It is for the benefit of the who received the promise, not the one making it. 

What is the point God was making? He does not lie. When God swore to Abraham he confirmed his promise with an oath. He wanted Abraham to believe with certainty that he would surely bless him and give him many descendants. In Abraham's case, he had a hard time to believe at first. What God promised him looked too unbelievable in his eyes. He and his wife were senior citizens and his wife was barren. How could they have children? This question was in his mind all the time. So he went through many up's and down's, believing, then doubting, then believing again, then doubting again, and so on.  Because he had some doubts he was unstable. He once laughed at God when God spoke about his promises (cf. Gen 17:17). Another time he became so impatient that he slept with his wife's servant and had a child named Ishmael. Abraham was like this for at least 20 years. 

We have to recognize that God swore to Abraham after he asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. God had given Abraham only one son, Isaac, by his wife Sarah. And then God asked him to sacrifice him as a burnt offering. After Abraham passed God's test, God made his promise again and then confirmed it with his oath. "I will surely bless you and give you many descendants." That was a crucial moment. Abraham could have thought, "Well, I've heard that one before," or he could have thought, "I tried (believing) living by faith, Lord, but you didn't deliver. God forgets about me." But he didn't do that. When God swore to him at that time, Abraham realized that God is telling the truth, and he's been trying to teach Abraham that he does not lie at all. From that point on Abraham believed God's promise absolutely and waited patiently. And so his story in Genesis basically finishes there. And "after waiting patiently, he received what was promised" (15). The promise, of course, is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, through whom God blesses all nations and gives Abraham descendants like the stars in the sky. So Jesus once said, "Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56).

This is the example of faith we are called to follow as we come to God. We have received a promise and hope of complete salvation from a God who does not lie, but only tells the truth. In fact, the oath was intended for us. Look at verse 17. "Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath." God confirmed his promise by an oath not only for Abraham, but really for us, so that we may believe his promise. God has made the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear for our sake, because he knows our weakness in being prone to unbelief. 

What does this confirmation do for us? Look at verses 18-20. "18God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." It gives us encouragement and hope. This hope is interestingly compared to an anchor for our souls. An anchor prevents a ship from drifting away. Likewise, the hope God has given us acts as an anchor for our souls, firm and secure, preventing us from drifting away in the sea of doubt. 

Here, then, is our situation: We have fled from our old, sinful life that was leading to destruction, to take hold of the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ. But why do we doubt? Don't we want to believe? Yet, often we find that we are like a father that once came to Jesus and said, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24). Many things constantly bother us and tell us to go back to our old way of life and to despair. When it seems our prayers aren't answered when we needed it, we doubt. When we shamefully give in to old, sinful habits, we doubt. When we see others succeed, we doubt. When we look at ourselves, we doubt. Many even doubt their salvation at times. The promise offered to us of perfect salvation seems too unbelievable. Think about it. How can a weak and shameful sinner like me really be saved, perfected, and brought into the face to face fellowship with God in his kingdom? God does it, by his power. He promised to it and he swore, as if to say, "Believe me, I'm telling the truth." 

Where is our hope anchored? Our hope is anchored behind the curtain in the inner sanctuary. In the temple given through Moses, there was the inner most sanctuary, called the holy of holies. It was separated from the outer room by a curtain, and only one person, the high priest, could enter the holy of holies, and he could only do so once a year, on the Day of Atonement. But now our hope is there, and Jesus is there on our behalf, and we are there through Jesus. This refers to the place where God is and we can have face to face fellowship with him. It was his place of mercy for sinners in the temple. We are anchored in God's mercy and promise. 

Part II. Jesus' Perfect Priesthood (7:1-28)

At this point the author begins to speak in greater detail about Jesus' priesthood because it is the way God worked out our salvation and hope. Jesus' priesthood is perfect to save us completely because it is in the order of Melchizedek's, which had a better priest and a better priesthood. (This is compared to the preisthood given through Moses and established in Levi and Aaron's line.) Through faith in the person and work of Jesus we can be saved. 

(1) A better priest. Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek. Who was Melchizedek? We don't know exactly. He's a very mysterious figure. But what we do know shows us that he is like a foreshadow (type) of Jesus Christ and that he was a great man, even greater than Abraham. Melchizedek appears in Genesis 14. After Abraham defeated the five kings in Canaan and saved his nephew Lot, Melchizedek suddenly comes out of nowhere, is announced "priest of God Most High," and blesses Abraham. His name makes of think of Jesus, because it means, "King of Righteousness," and he is called the "King of Peace" (cf. Isaiah 9:6-7; 32:1). He also received a tenth offering from Abraham. Abraham is regarded as a great man. He is our father of faith. He is the ancestor of the Jewish people and the Savior, Jesus Christ. But Melchizedek was greater than him and blessed him. The Levitical priests were also regarded as great. There are only two priesthoods that were divinely sanctioned by God, Levi's and Melchizedek's. But Levi gave a tenth offering to Melchizedek (through Abraham, so to speak) (9-10). Therefore Jesus, who is a priest in the order of Melchizedek, is greater than the priests in the order of Aaron and Levi. 

(2) A better priesthood. Look at verse 11. "If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?" This is not just a matter of who is greater, but of what can be done through the priesthood. The Levitical priesthood could not bring sinful man to perfection and so draw near to God. It didn't meet all of our needs. For example, the law was weak and useless to save sinful man (18-19); the priests died and could not help the people to the full extent; the priests were also sinners and had to offer sacrifices for their own sins first; those who became priests did so based on a regulation to their ancestry, not ability. 

But Jesus and his priesthood meets all of our needs. In what way are we needy? In every way, because we're sinners. Basically, because we're sinners, to come to God we need someone who is without sin (sinless), yet understands our weaknesses. We need someone who has power to bring us to God. How does Jesus' priesthood meet our needs?

a) Look at verses 16 and 17. Jesus became a priest "on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is declared: 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.' " This refers to the power of Jesus' resurrected life. He conquered death and by his power of life can save men from death. Where the old law under Aaron was weak and useless, Jesus has the power of life. Look at verses 18-19. " 18The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless 19(for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God." 

Also, because he always lives, he can serve as our high priesthood as much as we need. Verse 25 says that he "always lives to intercede" for us. He can do the job to the end. One of the things that Jesus is doing behind the curtain as our priest is interceding for us. 

b) Jesus' priesthood is based on God's oath. Look at verses 20-22: "20And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him: 'The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever." ' 22Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant." Jesus became a priest based on God's special calling and declaration, not on his ancestry. The oath guaranteed a perfect priesthood to help us. Aaron's priesthood did not come with an oath, but Jesus' priesthood is so firmly established, like the promise given to Abraham, confirmed with an oath.

c) Look at verse 26: "Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens." The other high priests were sinners and had to make sacrifices for their own sins first and then for those of the people, day after day. But Jesus is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Jesus did not need to sacrifice for himself. Rather, he gave himself up as the sacrifice necessary for the sins of the people. 

In conclusion, let's look at verses 24 and 25 again. "24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." We have learned that there is great and marvelous grace in Jesus, enough to save us completely and forever. Thank God for giving us this grace and hope as an anchor for our souls. May God help us to repent of all our doubt, unbelief, negative thinking about God, and live joyful, diligent, and patient lives of faith. 

One Word: Jesus is able to save completely