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A Guarantee I Can Count On

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This is a manuscript, and not a transcript of this message. The actual presentation of the message differed from the manuscript through the leading of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is possible, and even likely that there is material in this manuscript that was not included in the live presentation and that there was additional material in the live presentation that is not included in this manuscript.
If you are considering purchasing almost any kind of investment, from a mutual fund to an annuity, you will undoubtedly see this warning that is required by the SEC:
"Past performance is no guarantee of future results."
That is just one reminder that there are no guarantees in this life. How many times have you purchased a product with a “money-back guarantee” only to find that the product doesn’t live up to the hype and that actually getting your money back is impossible, or at least a lot more work than you imagined? Or maybe you booked a seat on a flight and got to the airport only to find out that the flight was overbooked and your seat is gone.
The more important the matter is, the more important it is that we have a sure guarantee. If I buy a non-stick pan from a commercial on TV and the pan doesn’t live up to its billing, I’m really not out a lot even if I can’t get my money back. But if I purchase a new house and there are some major issues with the construction and the builder either can’t or won’t make things right, that’s a much bigger problem.
The greatest need that we all have in life is the need for a Savior. So when it comes to that need, we had better be sure that the one who is claiming that He can save us is both able to do that and powerful enough to ensure that His lifetime guarantee can be relied upon.
The section that we’ve been looking at the last couple of weeks in our study of the book of Hebrews has focused on why we can count on Jesus to be our great high priest and to back up His claim that He is the only priest who can permanently and completely provide us with a bridge to a holy God. Today, we’re going to wrap up chapter 7, and as we do that, we’re going to take a deep look at the verse that I would consider to be the most important verse in the entire letter, and perhaps one of the most important verses in the entire Bible. But before we do that let’s read the entire passage so that we can put that verse in its proper context.
Hebrews 7:23–28 ESV
23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 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. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.
Let me ask you a question. Which verse in this passage do you think is the one I earlier called the key verse in this entire letter? Since there are only six verses here, you have a one in six chance of getting the answer correct. [Wait for answers].
That’s right - it’s verse 25:
Hebrews 7:25 ESV
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.
Here is the main idea that I want to develop from that verse, and from this passage, this morning:

Because Jesus saves completely, I can draw near to God confidently

Within the church, we often talk about the importance of “being saved”. But saved from what? I think that is a crucial question that we must answer before we can understand the significance of this passage and especially verse 25.
I’m going to let the Scriptures answer that question. As I share these next four verses, I want you to think about the common theme that runs through them.
John 3:36 ESV
36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 ESV
10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Romans 5:9 ESV
9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 ESV
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
I could provide you with a lot more verses that share the same theme, but I think these are adequate to help us understand what we need to be saved from. And what is that?
[Wait for answers]
That’s right. We all need to be saved from God’s wrath. Because we are all sinners, we all deserve the wrath of a holy God. Everyone, including you and me, deserves to suffer the terrible consequences of sin - the slavery to it, the guilt, death, and the final wrath to come - hell and the lake of fire.
While God loves us more than we can imagine, we also know that God will never compromise His perfect righteousness and justice in order to save sinners. That is why, as we have been saying for the last two weeks, we need a priest. And not just a human priest like the Levitical priests of the Old Covenant. We need a completely perfect high priest - a priest in the order of Melchizedek - Jesus.
Jesus is the only one who can save us from the consequences of our sin. And He didn’t just do that halfway. As it says in verse 25, He did that to the “uttermost”. This is one of the places where I’m really glad that the editors of the ESV have chosen to keep the KJV wording. The Greek word that the author uses here has two possible meanings. If you’re using the ESV translation you have a footnote that indicates that the word can either mean “completely” or it can mean “at all times”. The salvation provided through Jesus is both. It is perfect and complete and it is eternal and forever. There is nothing we can do on our own and there is nothing else any other human priest can do to provide that kind of salvation.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is “able” to save us like that. This entire chapter has shown us why only Jesus is able to do that, but he wraps up the chapter by summarizing three reasons...


Since we’ve already explored these ideas in some depth, we’ll go through this pretty quickly.
The sufficiency of His life (v. 26)
Unlike any human priest, Jesus lived a sinless life here on earth. As we saw earlier in chapter 4, even though as a man Jesus was tempted in every way just like us, He never sinned, not even once. That is something no other human in the history of mankind, including the most righteous of all the Jewish priests, could claim.
The sufficiency of His death (v. 27)
Under the Old Covenant, the Jewish priests had to continually offer sacrifices, first for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people. When Jesus willingly offered Himself up on the cross, He only needed to do that once. That is because His perfect sacrifice provides for the possibility of a completely perfect salvation for all who draw near to God through faith in Him.
The sufficiency of His new life (v. 23-25, 28)
Even though He was sinless, His sacrifice on the cross would have been meaningless if Jesus had remained in the grave. But Jesus did rise from the grave and He lives forever. And as we see in verse 25, because of that, He is constantly at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. Every time we sin, Jesus is our advocate, reminding the Father that He has already paid the penalty for our sins and has cleansed us from those sins and clothed us with His righteousness.
Although we obviously ought to seek to obey God’s Word, our salvation is not voided every time we fail to do that because it depends not on us, but on the perpetual prayers of our great high priest - Jesus!
I do briefly want to call your attention to a phrase at the end of verse 28, where we are told that Jesus was “made perfect forever”. That does not imply in any way that Jesus was sinful or that He wasn’t already prefect before His resurrection. But similar to the way we saw the word “perfection” used last week, the idea here is that Jesus completed the task of making our salvation possible by dying on the cross and coming back to life.
And yet, even though Jesus is the only one in history who fulfills even one of these three qualifications, we often settle for an inferior priest or we try to save ourselves. But either of those options are insufficient and futile. The author of Hebrews seems to sense that here because he tells us that not everyone is going to make Jesus their great high priest. Only those who draw near to God through faith in Jesus are saved the way we have been talking about this morning.
It would be real easy to read that last part of verse 25 and conclude that my salvation is dependent on something that I do. It almost sounds like the only way Jesus can save me is if I decide to make the decision to draw near to God through Him. But, as we’ve talked about before, even the decision to put my faith in Jesus is a gift from God. It is not something that I can do on my own. Listen to what Jesus said about that:
John 6:44 ESV
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
I’m not sure who originally said this, but I came across this nugget in my studies this week:
Salvation isn’t a matter of throwing a rope to a drowning man who has the ability to grab the rope. It’s a matter of breathing new life into a man who has already drowned!
So my salvation is completely dependent on what Jesus has done for me and not on anything that I do. That is why the guarantee that Jesus gives to those of us who are His disciples when it comes to our greatest need - our need to be saved from the wrath of God - can be relied upon 100%. Unlike the guarantees of this world, with God we don’t ever have to worry that past performance is not a guarantee of future results. That is why we have said that...

Because Jesus saves completely, I can draw near to God confidently

Although I can’t receive the salvation that Jesus offers unless God draws me to Himself, once that has occurred and I have placed my faith in Jesus, the process of salvation is not over. As we have often talked about before, salvation has a past, present and future aspect to it. I was saved from the penalty of sin in the past, I am being saved from the power of sin in the present. And I will be saved from presence of sin in the future.
It is important to note that all the verbs in verse 25 are present tense verbs, so the author is focusing here on the present aspect of our salvation.
he is able = Jesus is continually able
to save = to keep on saving
draw near = keep drawing near
The whole idea of drawing near to God was completely foreign to the Jewish Christians to whom this letter is addressed. In the Old Testament, we constantly see that the Jews avoid seeing the face of God because without Jesus to be their priest, that would mean swift and certain death. They understood that no man can stand before a holy God clothed in his own sin.
But the priesthood of Jesus changes everything. Because I am forgiven and because He is constantly interceding on my behalf, I have the privilege of being able to draw near to God. And that is how I am to live out my salvation in the present. That is how Jesus is able to make me more like Him and how I overcome the power of sin in my life.
I love what Pastor John Piper wrote about what it means to draw near to God:
Drawing near is not moving from one place to another. It is a directing of the heart into the presence of God who is as distant as the holy of holies in heaven, and yet as near as the door of faith. He is commanding us to come. To approach him. To draw near to him.
When I draw near to God like that on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, I find the mercy and grace that I need in my life to be able to obey the commands of Jesus, to be forgiven when I fail to do that and to be able to handle whatever life might throw at me.
So I’d like to finish our time by talking about some practical steps we can take in order to draw near to God boldly and consistently. I know I mentioned some of these last week, but it certainly won’t hurt to be reminded of them again.


Get to know God through His Word
When Mary and I started dating, I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her because I wanted to get to know her better. I wanted to understand her likes and dislikes. I wanted to know what gave her joy. And I didn’t stop spending time with her once we got married, thinking that I already knew everything I needed to know about her. Nearly 45 years later, I still love spending time with her and getting to know her even better.
Every time you read the Bible, view it as an opportunity to get to know God better. Pray and ask God to reveal Himself through His Word. Consider what each passage reveals about the character and nature of God. The bible is not just a set of rules to follow. Yes, there are commands, and yes, we are to obey them. But the Bible is so much more than that. It is God’s primary way of revealing Himself to us. It is where He reveals His character, and His purposes, and His plans and His ways. So when you read the Bible, intentionally choose to think of the Bible in those terms. Ask God to speak to you and to help you to get to know Him better through His Word.
When I have a conversation with Mary, I’m not doing that because I want something from her. Sure, once in a while I might ask her for something, but if that is all I ever did, it wouldn’t be long before she really didn’t want to talk to me any more.
Why would talking to God be any different? If the only reason I ever pray is to ask God for something that I want, the conversation isn’t going to be real deep. Fortunately God isn’t like us. He won’t quit listening if that’s the only time we pray. But we are going to miss out on a level of intimacy with God and we aren’t going to experience the mercy and grace that we receive at God’s throne to the degree we could if we take our prayer life to a deeper level.
So what if our prayer life looked more like this:
Before I open the Bible, I take some time to thank God for the salvation that I have through Jesus. And then I pray and ask Him to reveal Himself through His Word. And then as I run across something that tells me more about who God is, I talk to Him about it. I thank Him for being who He is. And if I’m going through some trial or difficulty in my life, or I have a decision to make, or even if things are going really well in my life I relate that back to what I’ve just learned about God. So while asking God is a part of that conversation, it isn’t the only part. Instead, my prayers will be full of praise, wonder, amazement, and comfort.
Spend time with other disciples
While the privilege of being able to draw near to God boldly is based on our individual decision to put our faith in Jesus, there is also a corporate aspect of drawing near to God. The author is going to address that more explicitly and more in depth when we get to chapter 10.
Jesus never intended for any of His disciples to live in isolation. That is demonstrated by the fact that at the every moment a person puts his or her faith in Jesus that person is immediately immersed into the body of Christ, the church. So while we can and should draw near to God individually, we are also to do that corporately.
There is an energy and a synergism that occurs when we worship together or study the Bible together or even just get together to share a meal or hang out with each other that just doesn’t happen when we’re alone. That is why we find the phrase “one another” roughly 100 times in the New Testament. And almost 60 of those uses are specific commands related to our interactions with other disciples.
As always, there is something from this message that all of us can apply in our lives.
For some of you, it may be placing your faith in Jesus for the very first time so that you, too, can have the privilege of drawing near to God boldly.
For most of us, it probably means taking one or more of the practical steps we’ve discussed this morning to make sure that we’re taking advantage of the great opportunity we have to have an intimate personal relationship with a powerful, holy God. Maybe that is developing a whole new mindset when it comes to reading the Bible or praying. I think is something most of us could do to some degree. Or for some of you it might mean staying for the Bible Roundtable after this worship gathering or being part of a small group Bible study.
In life here on earth, there really aren’t any guarantees that we can count on. It is certainly true that in pretty much every area of life, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But when it comes to our relationship with God, we can be 100% sure that if we have drawn near to God through faith in Jesus and we continue to do that day-by-day, moment-by-moment, our salvation - past, present, and future - is fully and completely guaranteed by our great high priest - Jesus. So keep drawing near to God with confidence and receive mercy and find grace to help in your time of need.
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