To The Uttermost

Posted by on Sep 16, 2007

By Mike Withem, Pastor

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

September 16, 2007

Sunday Morning

“To The Uttermost”

Scripture Text: Hebrews 7:11-28

Introduction:

 

A.   Because it has been several months now since we began our study of Hebrews, I would like to take just a minute or two this morning to remind you about the circumstances surrounding the writing of this letter.

1. While we don’t know for sure who wrote this letter (many believe it was Paul), we do know to whom it was written and why it was written.

2. First of all, it was written to Jewish believers.

3. These were Jews who at some point had heard the preaching of the gospel and had placed their faith in Jesus as their Messiah.

4. While most Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah (John 1:11), there were some who did believe.

5. And so, Hebrews was written to Jewish believers.

6. Why was it written?

7. It was written because at least some of these believers, probably because of persecution, were seriously considering going backwards, spiritually, and once again embracing the Jewish form (ritual) of worship.

8. This is why the writer of Hebrews goes to great lengths to show that Jesus is better!

9. He is better than…

-the prophets,

-the angels,

-Moses,

-Levi,

-Aaron!

10.  It’s like he was asking, “Why would you want to go back to your old way of worshiping God, when there is a new and better way? Why would you want to do that?”

 

B.   In our study last Sunday, we saw how the writer of Hebrews used a priest by the name of “Melchisedec” to prove that Christ’s priesthood is better than the Levitical priesthood.

1. He did that by pointing out two things.

2. First of all, he pointed out how that Melchisedec was a type (picture) of Christ.

3. He then pointed out how that Melchisedec’s priesthood was superior to the Levitical priesthood.

4. Now if Melchisedec’s priesthood was superior to the Levitical priesthood, and if Melchisedec was a type of Christ, then it stands to reason that the priesthood of Christ is superior to the Levitical priesthood.

5. Again, the writer of Hebrews is asking the question, “Why would you want to go back to your old way of worshiping God, of which the Levitical priesthood was a part, when there is a new and better way, which focuses on Christ’s priesthood?”

 

C.   Now, this morning, as we look at the remainder of Hebrews chapter 7, we notice that the writer of Hebrews begins to get specific.

1. In the first part of Hebrews chapter 7, he sort of makes a blanket statement, “Christ’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood.”

2. But then in the remainder of this chapter, he gives specific reasons why this is true.

3. What I want us to do, this morning, is to focus our attention on these specific reasons why Christ’s priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood of Old Testament days.

 

D.   The first thing that I want to call your attention to are the…

 

 

I.       Limitations Of The Levitical Priesthood.

 

A.   Now before I say anything else, let me make something very clear.

1. The Levitical priesthood was ordained by God and served a very useful purpose in it’s day.

2. It had it’s limitations, yes, however, it did, at least temporarily, meet the needs of God’s people, and, most importantly, it pointed them to their coming Savior.

3. And so, let’s not be too critical of these descendants of Aaron who did their best to minister to the needs of God’s people in their day.

 

B.   What were the limitations of the Levitical priesthood?

1. According to our text, there were basically three.

2. First of all, the Levitical priesthood was limited in that its priests were, themselves, sinners in need of a high priest.

3. Notice again the first part of Vrs. 27 of our text, “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s:”

4. Now notice also the first part of Vrs. 28 of our text, “For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity;”

5. You may not have known this, but on the day of Atonement, when the high priest of Israel went into the holy of holies and sprinkled blood on the mercy as an atonement for the sins of Israel, before he could do that, he had to first of all offer a sacrifice for his own sins.

6. Listen as I read Lev. 16:11, “And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself, and for his house, and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which is for himself:”

7. Three times in this one verse we are told that before Aaron could offer a sacrifice for the people, he had to offer a sacrifice “for himself.”

8. And so, the Levitical priesthood was limited in that its priests were , themselves, sinners in need of a high priest.

 

C.   A second limitation of the Levitical priesthood was that it’s priests were subject to death.

1. Notice again Vrs. 23 of our text, “And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:”

2. There’s no doubt that the most beloved of all Israel’s high priests was Aaron.

3. However, the time came when Aaron died. (Num. 20:28)

4. When Aaron died, his son, Eleazar, became high priest in his place.

5. However, the time eventually came when Eleazar also died. (Josh. 24:33)

6. And this is the way it was during the days of the Levitical priesthood, priests came and went.

7. They were born, they were appointed to be priests, they served in that office, and then they died.

8. (Illus.- We experience something similar to this today, even though it is not exactly the same. As most of you have heard, I’m sure, the beloved and long time pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Dr. D. James Kennedy, recently passed away. I’m sure that the members of his congregation would have loved to have him as their pastor forever, but because even the best pastors get old and die, that was not a possibility.)

9. (Illus.- Not too many months ago, the beloved and long time pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, Dr. Jerry Fallwell, went to his heavenly home. I’m sure that the members of his congregation wished that he could be their pastor forever, but because pastors are human and subject to death, that was not possible either.)

10.   And so, the second limitation of the Levitical priesthood was that it’s priests were subject to death.

 

D.   This brings us to the third limitation of the Levitical priesthood, which was that it could not make its followers (worshipers) perfect.

1. Notice again Vrs. 11 of our text, “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?”

2. In other words, “If the Levitical priesthood could make its followers (worshipers) perfect, then there would have been no need for another priest (no need for Christ).

3. But the fact is, the Levitical priesthood could not make its worshipers perfect.

4. Notice again the first part of Vrs. 19, “For the law made nothing perfect.”

5. Now this raises a question.

6. Why didn’t the law make people perfect?

7. Why didn’t the sacrifices offered by the Levitical priests on behalf of the people make them perfect before God?

8. The answer is found in Heb. 10:1-4, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect….For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins….But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year….For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”

9. But someone asks, “If the blood of those animal sacrifices was not able to take away their sin, then why were the animals sacrificed?”

10.   Because, as Heb. 10:1 tells us, they were “a shadow of good things to come.” (Christ)

 

E.   And so, we see the limitations of the Levitical priesthood. Now I want to call your attention to the…

 

II.      Perfection Of Christ’s Priesthood.

 

A.   Look again at Vrs. 15 of our text, “And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest.”

1. In other words, because of the limitations of the Levitical priests, God ordained that we (mankind) should have “another priest” in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Now notice that word “another.”

3. The Greek language has at least two words for the word “another,” and they have two very different meanings.

4. First of all, there is the word “allos,” which means “another of the same kind.”

5. This is not the word found in Heb. 7:15.

6. When it says that “there ariseth another priest,” it does not mean another priest “of the same kind.”

7. We don’t need another priest of the same kind.

8. The Greek word found in Heb. 7:15 is the word “heteros,” which means “another of a different kind.”

9. When compared to the Levitical priests, Jesus is not another priest of the same kind, but rather another priest of a different kind.

 

B.   How is Jesus different from the Levitical priests?

1. First of all, He is different in that He is sinless.

2. Notice again Vrs. 26 of our text, “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens.”

3. As we’ve seen, the Levitical priests had to offer a sacrifice for themselves before they could offer one for the people, the reason being that they, too, were sinners.

4. Jesus, on the other hand, is “…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.”

5. The only sin that Jesus ever had was our sin, the sin that He took upon Himself on the cross when He became our substitute for sin.

6. Paul put it like this in 2 Cor. 5:21, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

7. Why is it so important that Jesus was sinless?

8. It is important because not only is Jesus our Great High Priest, He is also our sacrifice, and Jesus could not have been a suitable sacrifice for our sin, had He possessed any sin of His own.

 

C.   Not only is Jesus different from the Levitical priests in that He is sinless, He is also different in that He is not subject to death.

1. Notice again Vrs. 16-17, “Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life….For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever.”

2. Did you notice the words “endless life” in Vrs. 16?

3. Jesus was not ordained to be our Great High Priest because of a “carnal (fleshly) commandment,” but rather because of His “endless life.”

4. This is why Vrs. 17 declares that He is “a priest for ever.” (He is not subject to death!)

5. But someone says, “Wait a minute. Didn’t Jesus die on the cross?”

6. Yes, He did, but He didn’t stay dead!

7. In Rev. 1, the apostle John writes about a vision that He had, where He saw Jesus.

8. Vrs. 17 tells us that when John saw Jesus, he “fell at his feet as dead.”

9. Do you remember what Jesus said to John?

10.   Listen as I read Vrs. 17-18, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:…I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.”

11.   Yes, Jesus died (on the cross), but He will die no more!

12.   He will be our Great High Priest forever!!!

 

D.   There is one more way in which Jesus is different from the Levitical priests, and that is, He is different in that He is able to make His worshipers perfect.

1. The Levitical priests could not do this, but Jesus can!

2. Notice again Vrs. 19 of our text, “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”

3. Let me say once again, that even though the law had it’s limitations, it served a very useful purpose in its day.

4. However, as useful as the law was, it never made anyone perfect, and it never will.

5. Jesus, on the other hand, who is the “better hope” of which this verse speaks, can make us perfect!

6. How perfect?

7. We will answer that question in just a moment.

 

E.   And so, we see the perfection of Christ’s priesthood.

 

F.    Finally, this morning, I want us to consider the…

 

III.    Completeness Of Our Salvation In Christ.

 

A.   Notice again Vrs. 25 of our text, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

1. There are at least two things that we can learn about our salvation from this verse.

2. First of all, we can learn that our salvation is complete.

3. In other words, when God saved us, He saved us “to the uttermost.”

4. Do you realize what this means?

5. It means that there is nothing left for us to do!

6. (Illus.- There are many professing Christians who are of the opinion that when God saved them, He didn’t save them completely, but rather left part of the process up to them. Some believe that baptism completes the process. Others believe that joining some church completes the process. Still others believe that doing good works completes the process. Still others believe that persevering to the end completes the process.)

7. The Bible, however, tells us something very different.

8. The Bible tells us that when God saved us, He completed the process Himself, and that there is nothing left for us to do.

9. Because of the perfection (completeness) of Christ’s priesthood, our salvation is complete in Him.

 

B.   The second thing that we can learn about salvation from this verse is that it only comes through Christ.

1. Notice again what it says, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.”

2. Yes, God saves to the “uttermost,” however, He only saves those who come to Him by faith in Christ.

3. There is no other way.

4. (Illus.- I know that it is not politically correct to say this, but the fact is, if a Muslim is going to make it to heaven, He is going to have to trust Christ as His Savior. If a Hindu is going to make it to heaven, he is going to have to trust Christ. If a Buddhist is going to make it to heaven, he is going to have to trust Christ. If a Jew is going to make it to heaven, he is going to have to trust Christ. There is no other way!!!)

5. Do you remember what Jesus Himself said in John 14:6? He said, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

6. The apostle Peter put it like this in Acts 4:12, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

7. Someone says, “That’s pretty narrow minded!”

8. Maybe so, but it you are God, you are the One calling the shots and you can be as narrow minded as you like!

Conclusion:

 

A.   What have we learned this morning?

1. Levitical priesthood had its limitations.

2. Christ’s priesthood is a perfect priesthood.

3. Because Christ’s priesthood is a perfect priesthood, our salvation is complete in Him.

 

B.   May I ask you a personal question?

1. Do you know Christ as your Savior?

2. Do you possess this complete salvation that He offers to those who put their trust in Him?

3. Are you saved “to the uttermost”?

4. If you are saved, then you are definitely utterly saved, however, if you are lost, you are definitely utterly lost.

5. If you should die this moment, do you know for sure that heaven would be your home?

 

C.   If not, won’t you consider coming to Christ today?